CW Blog

Falcon Heavy is just the beginning

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched itself into space for the first time ever, marking a new milestone in the private space race era — the successful deployment of a “heavy” class rocket capable of delivering a payload of up to 63.8 MT to low Earth orbit (LEO). Not since the Saturn V in the 1970s has the world launched a rocket of such size and capability. 

It was not difficult, watching video of the Falcon Heavy launch, to be impressed not just by the launch itself — and subsequent delivery of the Tesla Roadster cargo into space — but also the recovery of the two boosters, which landed simultaneously on adjacent landing pads near the Florida coast.

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3D printing for a Bonneville run

As a former (amateur vintage) racer myself, I appreciate all things motor sports, from Formula 1 down to kids’ go carts. And anyone familiar with racing knows the Bonneville Salt Flats, that great dry lake east of Wendover, UT, US. For more than 100 years, Bonneville has created a competitive spirit that has attracted racers from the likes of Mickey Thompson, Bobby Issac (of NASCAR fame), and Valerie Thompson (the fastest female motorcycle racer), and challenged racers, and their machines, to test the limits of speed. 

It’s an equal opportunity environment: you don’t need a giant budget or big blocks to run.  Engine classes run from 30 cubic Inches (490 cc) to 501 cubic Inches (8 liters), in 12 different engine size classes. Some speed records are still less than 100 mph, so with creativity, smart use of budget, and a lot of courage, anyone has a shot at the record books.

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SGL Group (Wiesbaden, Germany) is a leading manufacturer worldwide of products and materials made from carbon focusing on the megatrends of mobility, energy and digitization. The company’s extensive product portfolio ranges from carbon and graphite products and carbon fiber to composite parts. Over the past two years it has made a series of organizational maneuvers as part of its strategic realignment :

Throughout, SGL has communicated that its mission is to concentrate its expertise in the processing of carbon and glass fibers for composites materials and components into a single Composites – Fibers & Materials (CFM) business unit.

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From early work building carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) drones, Orbital Composites CEO Cole Nielsen wanted a better, faster means of manufacturing. Based in Silicon Valley, it’s not surprising that he and fellow employees opted for a different approach. “It took over a year just to identify the right questions,” says Nielsen. From there, they deconstructed every part of the conventional fused deposition modeling (FDM) process used to 3D print continuous fiber composites and redesigned it, including new hardware (and software) in order to achieve dramatic new capabilities:

Orbital Composites’ patented coaxial extrusion printing are being tested to produce continuous fiber composites onto curved surfaces and also offer the disruptive ability to print with wires and other elements for multifunctional composite structures.
SOURCE: CTC and Orbital Composites.

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CW Talks: Talking carbon nanotubes

The latest episode of CW Talks: The Composites Podcast features an interview with Joe Sprengard, president and CEO of nanomaterials specialist General Nano. Sprengard offers his insight on the role of carbon nanotubes in today’s composites manufacturing environment and how they might be applied in the future.

General Nano was named a Boeing Supplier of the Year in the Technology Category in 2016, for work the company did with Boeing in 2015. Sprengard talks about the award and the carbon nanotubes technology his company developed that helped the firm gain footing with Boeing.

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