CW Blog

By: Karen Mason 12. December 2017

Carbon Fiber 2017 final highlights

The final day of Carbon Fiber 2017 focused on enabling technologies for the expanded application of carbon fiber, as well as market forecasts about this potential growth. (See “Live from 2017 Carbon Fiber conference” for Day 1 recap.) The tenor of the day’s sessions was tempered yet optimistic. The conference ended on a positive note as several technological advancements were presented.

The challenges of expanding carbon fiber into new automotive applications was the focus of Carbon Fiber 2017’s keynote address, given by Mark Voss, General Motors engineering group manager, body structures advanced composites. From his own experience implementing carbon fiber panels for several vehicles in the Corvette series, Voss’ primary admonition was to “limit the ‘news’” in new applications; that is, restrict the number of technologies and processes that are new to the automotive industry. Material and process variables abound in carbon composites, he noted, and scaling further complicates implementation outcomes. “And the variables are amplified by 100 when you’re working on Class A surfaces,” he added. Critical to the success of a new carbon fiber component, he believes, is choosing familiar material forms and processing techniques where possible.

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BGF – US link to global composites high-tech

As a native of North Carolina, I’ve known about BGF Industries (Greensboro, NC, US) for decades. When I started as a technical marketing rep. for DuPont in the early 1990s, BGF was a customer using Kevlar fiber. I knew the company made good quality woven goods for aerospace and that it was acquired at some point by Porcher Industries (Badinières, France).

I’ve always thought of Porcher Industries as a high-quality weaver that also embraced new technologies. For example, its thermoplastic PiPreg products were introduced in 2004. However, after meeting with BGF Aerospace & Defense team  in March and then also with CEO André Genton at the 2017 JEC show in Paris, I now see a different story for the Group. That’s what I want to share here.

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Thermwood 3D prints large boat hull pattern

CNC and machining specialist Thermwood Corp. (Dale, IN, US) has 3D printed a boat hull pattern using a near net shape additive manufacturing process and then successfully used to produce a production-capable fiberglass mold in a proof-of-concept joint evaluation program. 

This achievement was the result of a collaborative effort between Thermwood, masterbatch specialist Techmer PM (Clinton, TN, US) and mold specialist Marine Concepts/Design Concepts (Cape Coral, FL, US). The tool was printed slightly oversized and then trimmed to final size and shape using Thermwood’s large-scale additive manufacturing (LSAM) system.

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Roth develops high-volume LPG tank line

The Roth production line is equipped with four assembly and handling robots for
efficient production processes.

Roth Composite Machinery (Steffenberg, Germany) has developed a fully automated production line for the manufacture of composite liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels using filament winding. The line contains four winding stations — each with five spindles — and enables the manufacture of 600,000 plastic-lined, glass fiber-overwrapped LPG vessels per year. Cycle time, says the company, is 43 seconds per vessel.

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