CW Blog

While driving to SPE’s Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) in Novi, MI, US, I stopped in Wapakoneta, OH to visit the Armstrong Air & Space Museum, as one does. During the drive I had been contemplating heat shield composition of various crew modules because just last week Lockheed Martin (Denver, CO, US) announced it had completed construction on the capsule structure for NASA's Orion Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) spacecraft and shipped it to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final assembly.

I knew I’d be traveling by the Armstrong Museum and wanted to stop because some of the technology used for the Apollo capsule was revisited for Orion – specifically Avcoat, an epoxy novolac resin with silica fibers in a fiberglass-phenolic honeycomb matrix. I was hoping there might be a capsule on display, but had to settle for a mockup. There was a Gemini crew module. Similarly, Gemini’s heat shield was made from a paste-like silicone elastomer material which was poured into a fiberglass honeycomb form. 

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Gougeon Brothers Inc. (Bay City, MI, US) recently sent an interesting press release about a 28-year old catamaran that’s still setting speed records and besting much newer craft. Incognito is a composite catamaran that was fabricated by Gougeon Manufacturing in 1990. Russell Brown of Port Townsend, WA raced the 28-year-old vessel, a G32, single-handedly in the grueling R2AK (Race to Alaska). In the qualifying leg from Port Townsend WA to Victoria, BC he finished 40 minutes ahead of the rest of the fleet. He then led the race for three days and was the first solo finisher for the second year in a row, knocking more than 24 hours off his record-breaking 2017 win, aboard the same boat.

So I was surprised to find on the Gougeon web site a long and detailed development, design and construction document (last update: 1996) describing the painstaking process that Meade and Jan Gougeon carried out to make that fast G32 catamaran, which likely accounts for its success 28 years on. I’ve borrowed sections, below, and you can read the document in its entirety here: .

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Sponsored Content 4. September 2018

Digitalization Takes Center Stage at IMTS 2018

Achieving a more digitally connected shop can take the form of data connection and collection, system monitoring and management, and using digital technology to improve the systems your shop relies on.

Dedicated to just that is the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) sponsored by AMT—The Association for Manufacturing. As one of two at IMTS this year, the ETC dedicated to Digital Transformation in the North Building lets you see it in action and discover examples of how businesses in aerospace, automotive, medical and energy sectors are implementing these innovations.

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This blog accompanies the Sep 2018 feature “Welding thermoplastic composites”. It’s a compilation of images and details that didn’t fit into the print article, including a timeline of induction welding developments and details on qualification for future commercial aircraft, as well as short sections on repair, developments for automotive and thermoset to thermoplastic (TS-TP) welding.

Just to reiterate why welded thermoplastic composite (TPC) assemblies are of interest for both aerospace and automotive lightweight structures, compare the two images below of the Airbus A320 rear pressure bulkhead. The top image is the current version made from aluminum. Notice the large number of rivets. Now compare that with the welded TPC demonstrator presented by Premium Aerotec at the 2018 ILA airshow in Berlin. Notice the absence of rivets. For composites, this not only eliminates the weight, time and cost of fasteners, but also the time and cost of positioning and drilling holes, plus cleaning and inspecting those holes. It also means much lighter structures without the laminate pad ups required to offset cuts through load-bearing fibers.

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New polymer composites may have multiple functions and end-uses in future EVs.

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