CW Blog

Greener camping: Sonic X breaks barriers


After 55 years, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Assoc. (RVIA, Reston, Va., U.S.) canceled its long-standing fall RVIA show in Louisville, Ky., U.S. In its place, the group developed a new spring event (the RVX show) focused on concept RVs and designed to move to a different city each year. The first show was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., in March 2019.

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Automation options arise for labor-intensive composites

Automation of composites manufacturing processes in commercial aerospace has focused primarily on the use of automated fiber placement (AFP) and automated tape laying (ATL) of large structures — such as fuselage and wing skins, stringers, frames, spars and wing boxes — that consume quantities of material sufficient to justify the cost of the automation itself.

However, automation is more difficult to justify for discrete parts and structures that often are fabricated using hand layup or other manual processes. For some of these smaller applications, new tools and equipment are being developed that bring automation to a large segment of the aerocomposites manufacturing process, yielding a return on investment (ROI) that justifies the capital investment.

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Building bridges with composites

Aging infrastructure is an often-cited global problem with bridges, waterfronts and other structures in need of rehabilitation, and in many cases, replacement. Composites offer the advantages of corrosion resistance and durability, which contribute to low maintenance and long service life for structures, contributing to life cycle cost savings and a long-term economic advantage over traditional materials such as steel and concrete. Many advocates in the composites industry, from material suppliers to fabricators, are working to spread awareness about the benefits advanced materials offer to update infrastructure the world over. Resistance to change, concerns over unit material costs and skepticism over the performance of new materials have proven difficult hurdles for advanced materials advocates to overcome, but all of that is gradually starting to change.

Fibrelite (Skipton, U.K.), a brand of OPW (Hamilton, Ohio, U.S.), a Dover (Downers Grove, Ill., U.S.) company, specializing in composite access and manhole covers, has recognized a shift to composites over the last decade or so, as metal and concrete covers are gradually being replaced using composite materials. Jo Stott, marketing director for Fibrelite, cites a combination of corrosion resistance, light weight and higher load ratings as the reason behind the shift.

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Microfiber-infused resin enables single-step molding process


Spoke Materials Inc. (Indianapolis, Ind., U.S.), a new resin technology company has acquired a line of molding and casting resins, structural adhesives, and pastes and putties originally developed by Mirteq Inc. (Fort Wayne, Ind., U.S.). Spoke is improving and relaunching the advanced composite material to provide alternatives to traditional methods such as RTM, hand layup and infusion that use long fibers. According to Spoke Materials CEO Joe Locke, its MIR line of products can reduce labor, raw materials cost and decrease production time for many detailed parts as the products require no additional reinforcement or expensive tooling.

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Proving out LM PAEK welding for Multifunctional Fuselage Demonstrator

This blog gives an update to the Clean Sky 2 Multifunctional Fuselage Demonstrator (MFFD), which has changed somewhat from my last writing in 2018. One of three large fuselage demonstrators to be assembled by 2022 and then tested through 2023, MFFD is an 8-meter long fuselage barrel that will be made from welded thermoplastic composites.

Within MFFD, there are dozens of individual projects and work packages. Two at the forefront are STUNNING (SmarT mUlti-fuNctionNal and INtegrated thermoplastic fuselaGe), which will develop and manufacture the lower half of the MFFD, and MECATESTERS (Micro mEchanical Characterization of A ThErmoplastic Co-conSolidated/welded joinT for usE in aiRcraft fuSelages), which is part of STUNNING.

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