CW Blog

Serving pultrusion customers in the digital age

 

I have a Twitter account but rarely tweet. I’m not alone – in fact, I recently found a blog entitled “Six tips for Twitter users with fewer than 25 followers” and thought, those are my people. Why do I bring this up? Although I rarely tweet, I follow those that do, including many in the composites industry. One is Strongwell (Bristol, VA, US), a recognized leader in fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) pultrusion that is focused on a very wide array of end markets. Strongwell is diligent in regularly tweeting not only about its own news and case studies, but other interesting composites applications worldwide. I’ve learned to pay attention to these tweets, as they always lead to interesting projects where composites out-perform legacy materials.

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Continental Structural Plastics (CSP, Auburn Hills, MI, US), molder of light weight composite technologies for the automotive industry, announced June 18 that its compounding facility in Van Wert, OH, is celebrating 40 years in business.

Because CSP develops and compounds its own composite formulations, Van Wert’s ability to compound impacts many of the company’s global automotive customers. Of the more than 84 thousand tons of sheet molded compound (SMC) compounded by CSP annually, more than 60 thousand of those come from the facility in Van Wert. Much of that is the company’s own, proprietary formulas created by CSP’s team of chemists and engineers located at the company’s global headquarters and R&D center in Auburn Hills.

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A lot of research effort continues on electric propulsion for aircraft, and challenges remain. As I blogged in 2016, many programs are aimed at developing viable battery-electric or solar propulsion for smaller aircraft. One US-based program is NASA’s Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology and Operations Research (SCEPTOR) subproject, which is developing the manned X-57 Maxwell experimental aircraft featuring a distributed electric propulsion system (more on that below).  SCEPTOR is part of NASA’s Convergent Aeronautics Solution (CAS) initiative, which falls under the agency’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program. NASA’s goal of meeting and overcoming the challenges of today’s aviation starts with potentially revolutionary ideas, and CAS was instrumental in supporting the idea of zero-carbon-emitting distributed electric propulsion, says the agency.

As defined in a 2010 technical paper authored by Hyun Dae Kim of NASA Glenn Research Center (Cleveland, OH, US), a distributed electric propulsion system means integrating a propulsion system within an airframe such that the aircraft gets the full synergistic benefits of coupling of the airframe aerodynamics and the propulsion thrust stream by distributing thrust using many propulsors on the airframe. OK, in other words, the X-57 will have many small battery-powered electric motors, 14 in all, distributed along the length of the wing (12 high-lift motors along the leading edge of the wing and two larger wingtip cruise motors). NASA says the X-57 will undergo as many as three configurations, with the final configuration to feature 14 electric motors and propellers. The 12 smaller electric motors will be used to generate lift during takeoff and landing only, while the two wingtip motors will be used during cruise. The goal of the X-57 program is to demonstrate a 500% increase in high-speed cruise efficiency, zero in-flight carbon emissions, and flight that is much quieter for the community on the ground.

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Keeping up with technology requires a dedication to education. That means taking a proactive approach to learning in all its various forms; online resources, training opportunities, and especially industry events like conferences and trade shows.

Leading up to any industry event, attendees and exhibitors alike have their time and attention dedicated to keeping up with business, leavening little time for anything else.

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Building an aircraft without molds or fasteners?

 

Elemental rings are fitted to create a mandrel for the fuselage skin in this MTorres demonstrator fuselage.

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