CW Blog

CCP Gransden (Belfast, Northern Ireland) has been in the Advanced Engineering sector for over a century.  Forty of those years have been specifically in the manufacture of advanced composites, beginning with large glass fiber-reinforced structures (2-3m diameter) for harsh environments. In 2012, the company identified opportunities for growth through the use of new advanced technologies and the manufacture of lightweight thermoplastic composites. “There was a lot of interest from both the aerospace and automotive markets,” says Scott King, Strategic Partnership Manager. “We saw a fit where we could offer improved performance to our customers using new innovative processes.”

One of the opportunities which CCP Gransden started to explore was overmolding. It worked with Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) through the local office Engel UK Ltd. (Warwick) to install vduo 1100 workcell and develop this into a state of the art high-volume advanced composite production system. The Engel workcell combines thermal-press forming and injection molding to achieve single-stage composite overmolding.

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CW Talks catches up with Chuck Miller

One of the newest episodes of CW Talks: The Composites Podcast, catches up with Chuck Miller, founder and president of California-based polyurethane tooling board manufacturer Coastal Enterprises.

Miller explains how he started as an engineer in the mid-1960s, working on development of the Saturn V launch vehicle, which would eventually take astronauts to the moon. When that program ended, and still with a family to support, Miller took polyurethane foam technology he worked with on the Saturn program and turned it into a business opportunity — one that is still thriving today. 

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New online Knowledge Base can help with mold release questions

A new online resource about all things mold release was recently announced by Stoner Molding Solutions (Quarryville, PA, US). This company, founded in 1942 and focused originally on rubber molding and aerosol applications, has worked over the years to develop thermoplastic releases for injection molding, cleaners, rust preventatives, releases for melt spinning lines, polyurethane molding releases, rotational molding releases and more. In 2014, Stoner added the Honey Wax and KantStik brands for composites molding.Stoner Molding Solutions has updated their Web site, and added a section called “Knowledge Base,” found under the News & Knowledge tab. Says Stoner’s Peter Taraborelli, responsible for marketing and public relations, “We are taking the time to bring together the knowledge that we’ve gathered from years of field experience, and post it in a public place, our Knowledge Base. Our goal is to publish one article per month.”

The first article, Mold Release Spraying: How to Optimize Processes for Best Results, looks at the spraying technology available in the market today for application of mold releases and how to get the best results. While simple, symmetrical molds can be treated by hand wiping or brushing, more complex mold designs require a spray applicator. The article stresses that one should not use spray equipment designed for paints or gel coats, as it will be oversized for the less-viscous mold release. Several equipment suppliers are recommended. Stoner recommends a high-pressure pump and a special airless sprayer, for less flyaway particles and mess. A special filter should be used to capture moisture when spraying, which can adversely affect the mold release application. And, computerized spray tips are an option, which eliminate operator variation and can be used in an automated factory setting. 

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To me, this announcement makes so much sense and heralds, I believe, a bright future for composites. In the communications Gougeon and Entropy sent to their customers and associates, they painted an image of growth, literally. From seeds as startup businesses, to building the WEST SYSTEM, PRO-SET and ENTROPY brands, to grafting these together with organic partnerships in recycling via companies like CONNORA TECHNOLOGIES and others, the overall image is a deep root system and foundation that supports an expanding portfolio of high-performance, tailorable composites technologies and a future that will help foster growth and new life in our industry.

Below are the insights from my discussions with Entropy co-founder and CEO Desi Banatao and Alan Gurski, President & CEO of Gougeon Brothers, Inc. But first, a brief background on each company that shows the “same culture” they refer to below.

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Williams Advanced Engineering (WEA, Grove, Oxfordshire, UK), a sister company to the F1 team, offers its expertise to industry in areas including aero- and thermodynamics, advanced lightweight materials, including composites, and hybrid/electric vehicles. Its EV pedigree includes being the sole battery supplier for the Formula E racing series, the team behind the Jaguar CX-75 hybrid concept car and all of Nissan’s electric vehicle prototypes, the technology partner for the 2020 electric hypercar being developed by Singapore startup Vanda Electrics, developer of a high-performance battery project for VW Audi and leader of a consortium including Coventry University, Unipart, WMG, and Productiv, in the development of a UK flexible battery manufacturing facility.

According to The Engineer UK’s interview in May 2017 with WEA technical director Paul McNamara, the company had about 48 projects underway, mostly motorsport and automotive, but also some further afield, including an aerodynamic device that reduces the energy consumed by supermarket refrigerators and the lightweight, crash-proof carbon fiber composite Baby Pod, designed for transporting babies from one hospital to another.

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