CW Trending features subject matter experts, material suppliers, technical experts and CW's own editors to explore ideas, technologies, trends and innovations in development or on the market. #Trend#cwtrending
The composites industry is constantly being influenced and reshaped by countless forces (people, markets, technology), all of which have inspired innovative ways to apply fiber-reinforced materials to everything from ships and wind blades to airplanes and automobiles. CW Trending is a monthly video podcast that carefully studies these complex forces and helps you understand them. CW Trending features subject matter experts, material suppliers, technical experts and CW's own editors to explore ideas, technologies, trends and innovations in development or on the market.
Every month, you have the opportunity to register and watch the recording live, and participate in a Q&A session with Chief Editor Jeff Sloan and Senior Editor Ginger Gardiner. Can't you keep up with that day? do not worry! All our episodes will be published on YouTube for you to watch at a more convenient time.
In our first episode, we explored the democratization of composite materials. Learn more about automated AFP units for SMEs, more internal functions for suppliers, online portals, robot CT and other NDTs, robot injection molding, etc.
Interested in learning more? Sign up for Episode 2: CW Trends: Composites Opportunities in the Growing Infrastructure Market
Jeff Sloan, World of Composites
Hi everyone, and welcome to CW Trending. My name is Jeff Sloan, I am the editor-in-chief of Composites World, and I joined
Ginger Gardiner, the world of composites
Ginger Gardiner Senior Editor of Composites World. Hey everyone.
So, this is the first episode of CW Trending, and we hope it is the first episode, but the question is what is it? This is Ginger's idea, so I will let Ginger explain what CW Trending is.
For me, when I am writing articles, blogging and talking with companies all over the world, I can see the establishment of trends, I can see that things are going to a turning point, and I want a way to communicate with our readers share. Sometimes it takes a while for us to publish an article, develop a blog or article, put it online, and then send it to you. So, at the same time, while we are doing this, I hope you understand what is going to happen and what is happening.
Most importantly, every day Ginger, Hannah Mason and I discuss what we are doing and what we see. We think it will be interesting for you as an audience to see these conversations and see what we see and hear what we are talking about. Hope that CW Trending can also bring in people from the outside to talk about what they are doing and what they are seeing. Therefore, this will be a multi-pronged effort. Ginger, why don't you continue, I know you have prepared your presentation. Why don't you bring it up, we will start.
The first episode is where I put together what I saw about the democratization of composite materials. So, for me, the topics involved are:
Okay, first of all, the AFP unit for small and medium-sized enterprises. This is based on some reports made by me and Effman. Effman is a Canadian company engaged in the automation of composite materials. They started a project to integrate the Addcomposites AFP head into their Fanuc robot on site. So, for those of you who haven't read my blog and all the press releases on Addcomposites, they are a company from Finland, they have a plug-and-play AFP head, and they ship it to you in a box, a bit like Dell computers. You open the package and plug and play. They are also unusual because they disrupt the AFP market to some extent-instead of buying a million-dollar system, you are buying a much cheaper system, or you can rent it. So, I think you can rent it for 1,000 Euros per month for as long as you need it, and then send it back.
The goal of this project between Effman and Addcomposites was not to create a prepreg laminate, but to create a dry tape laminate. So, these are high permeability prefabs, and then they will be used in RTM or Light RTM, if you can see the picture on the right, they are actually placed in a glass fiber braid, so this is really unusual . This is not what we are used to seeing from the minds of Agence France-Presse, it is just to show the kind of innovation involved. That tape was devised by Effman and completed in collaboration with Addcomposites. Then, the real goal is to hand over the equipment to small companies and manufacturers so that they can use the same processes used by Boeing and Airbus Tier 1 suppliers to make new parts using automation and liquid handling.
Another aspect of this democratization is to improve internal capabilities. So, if you have in-house AFP, in a more cost-effective way, and now you have dry tape, this is an article I wrote this year in the back-to-back series with MTorres-first of all, about them. Invented tape production line. So, if you look at the picture at the bottom, you can see this hall with production equipment. On the left is the glass fiber dry tape production line, and on the right is the carbon fiber dry tape production line. You can see a tape and then some close-ups. It's interesting.
This work originally came from their cooperation with wind blade manufacturers and tried to figure out a way to allow wind blade manufacturers to use affordable AFP. Generally, the tapes sold for AFP machines are not affordable for things like wind blades. Therefore, what they want to do is to use the cheapest fiber possible—50k carbon fiber tow or 4800 tex glass roving—and they have developed a production line that is 5-10 times faster than the production line currently used by tape suppliers. Therefore, you can reduce costs by making better use of the capital expenditure of the equipment, and again the goal is to produce high-permeability tapes that can be used to make preforms.
So, what did they do for this permeability-if you can see it in the picture in the lower right corner-they put some gaps in the tape. Now, these are not cut fibers, so the continuity and mechanical properties of the fibers are intact. They just move the fibers away a little bit so that you have better Z-direction permeability. The resin flows very fast from one layer to another. Then, if you see it on the right hand side, it is a narrower band, and you can see these circles. It is a thermoplastic that holds unidirectional (UD) loose filament fibers together. Therefore, they take 50K tow and unfold it. This thermoplastic pattern fixes it in the tape, but it also creates XY plane permeability. Therefore, it is a bit like streaming media built into tape. This is really important because if someone has read the article, you will know that if you are stacking 30-50 layers of UD tape, sometimes it is a bit tricky to use carbon fiber to put the resin into the XY plane. Therefore, the permeability is both in the Z direction and in the plane.
They envision that the tape production line will also help the industry produce small batches of new materials. Sometimes we struggle because large tape suppliers only want, you know, the same thing, thousands of meters, and they don’t necessarily respond to companies that want to try new things. The idea is that in this way, you can do it, and you can let the company really push the possibilities of new materials.
What Mtorres then did was to try out the tape in the Clean Sky 2 project. They built this wing box in the lower left corner. It is an integrated wing box, everything except the top cover. It is the lower wing cover, the reinforcement of the cover, the front beam, and the rear beam, and each of these beams has a reinforcement. This is what you saw there. It was an article I wrote in March.
Two quick questions about the innovation of Effman composites. It's just a question of scale, is it accessible and affordable, or is the technology being implemented here that we usually don't see in AFP?
Well, on the one hand, the plug-and-play head is something we usually don't see. So when it appeared, it was a real disruptor, trying to narrow its concept so that people who usually can't access it due to cost reasons can really use it. Another aspect is this cooperative relationship between Effman and Addcomposites to jointly manufacture these cells. Effman, obviously their expertise is to manufacture these affordable batteries in a range of industries. This is their true potential market in North America right now. It is not necessarily all, all. You can build a machine that can meet most of the needs of a part manufacturer without spending too much money. The permeability of dry fiber is a problem, especially when you are infusion, of course you must use dry fiber. .
Next question: Is there a challenge in laying dry fibers and fixing them in place? How does MTorres solve this problem?
Therefore, because they are AFP experts and they have been doing this for decades, they have a natural understanding of the problem of laying dry fibers. They have a project that is not included in these articles. They used AFP and dry fiber to build a business jet-sized airframe. So, it gave them a good understanding of what is necessary, and this project is developing in parallel with this. So, yes, the tape runs very well on their machines, and it is possible to make aerospace-grade laminates with tape and their machines. They considered all of these in this development process.
Therefore, the next topic is the portalization of the composite materials industry. We are all familiar with going to Amazon or eBay and how easy it is for us to place an order. Moreover, we can use algorithms to search for what we want and then make suggestions to us. Now, we see this happening in the composites industry. The first example I saw is Plyable, which is the big black box in the lower left corner. Plyable is a company. If you want to make tools for the production of composite parts, the tools can be anything, from wood to plastic, from epoxy foam to metal, or composite CFRP tools-the entire range. You go in, you enter your CAD file, what do you think you want for the tool material, your volume, etc., and then it comes back and optimizes the tool with you. Then they send it to their manufacturer base, their network, and then they come back to tell you the delivery time and cost, and then you click the button. Then ship it to you, which is just revolutionary for me compared to how we operate.
Another interesting thing is that they originated in England. I mean, that is their base, and their network started in the UK. But I think it is rapidly expanding from there. This makes a lot of sense to me because we have a network of all these manufacturers in the world for parts processing. Many small companies do everything, right? They must be experts in all walks of life. So now you have a new way to utilize that capacity. This is a bit like Uber. Our standing capacity is not always used. This is a way to use it.
The next example is the example I wrote in the Composite Materials 4.0 series I wrote last year. So, this is Dynexa, which produces carbon fiber tubes and really high-quality drive shafts. What happened in the past was that their customers would send orders, email them to them, and then they would run their software through their design, and then they would come back and say: "Yes, we think you know you should use this Way to optimize. We know you want this quantity, this is the timeline we can deliver, this is the price." But instead of spending all of their time, they said: "We will let the algorithm do this. "So now they let their customers log in and put all this data in their portal. Then it will spit out all of this for you, and it will be done in a few hours or a day instead of a week.
Then another interesting thing is that it frees up their time for more advanced development and more customizations that they didn't have enough time to do before. So, it is better to use their employees. But the other part is that when they click the order button, all the paper traces are now embedded in the QR code on the tube. Their customers tell them that they don't want to ship all the paperwork anymore. So it’s easier for them to have a tube, be able to scan it quickly and know, "Well, this is this batch and this material."
Finally, the last example is Airborne in the lower right corner. We saw at JEC 2019 that they are demonstrating this automated production line that is now in use. I think the production line started with thermoset composites and is rapidly shifting to thermoplastic composites. You can see how it works. You upload your design, they will help you optimize it, and then they can make laminates or parts and send it to you. So, for me, this is just an overall paradigm shift in the way the industry operates in the future, and it will happen sooner or later.
I think an advantage here is that if you are a manufacturer or OEM who needs parts, and you don’t know much about composite materials, this provides a portal through which you can work and rely on other experts to help guide you and manufacturing. Make some decisions instead of feeling that you have to know all the information about composite manufacturing. We should also add that just last week, Airborne announced that they are expanding their business to the United States. So, of course, this model is growing, and then I should add that there is another organization, which is actually a British consortium, Called DASIS, it is a group of manufacturers including composite material manufacturers, CNC experts, 3D printers, injection molders, and tool manufacturers. Similarly, DASIS acts as the project manager and front-office staff for original equipment manufacturers that require parts, and they then work with their consortium to manufacture these designs. So, many of these models have appeared, and I think it will be very interesting to see how things unfold.
Regarding professional knowledge, this is a very good point. This is what Dynexa and Airborne have basically said, that they are using all their expertise and putting it into these algorithms and AI software. Up to this point. It is provided to you, the customer, so you don't have to develop this expertise yourself. So, this is a very important point. nAd The other is that the German industry and research group AZL Aachen is also preparing for machine portalization, and they have also seen this.
Therefore, the next slide is about robotic computed tomography and non-destructive testing, which is also aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises. Computed tomography has really developed in the past five years. I started to use Exact Metrology to write articles about it in the United States. The company has this ability and provides this kind of service. Some other companies, such as Jesse Garant, also provide this service, and the ability to use CT on composite materials is amazing to me. You can get this 3D image as well as all the porosity and fiber orientation of the injection molded or aerospace parts, just the details and the details, the granularity you get is amazing. For these large companies, tracking quality and processing is really helpful. However, it is expensive, so what happens is that you end up going to a service organization because it is too expensive to buy a CT machine.
For a CT machine, basically you have a rotating table, you put the parts there, and when it rotates, X-rays pass through the parts on the table, and you get a 360 degree scan. What is happening now is that this company in the Czech Republic called Radalytica, they are experts in robot non-destructive testing, as you can see in the upper right corner, they develop a collaborative robot system. Therefore, one robot emits X-rays, and the other uses the next technology of the technology, these photon counting detectors. NASA is using this technology; it is really, really sensitive. So, if you look at the bottom left corner, what the two robots actually image is a vase. If you look at the red and purple picture in the middle, and then look at the picture below it, you can see all the parts of the flower. We are not used to acquiring this sensitivity. Generally, you cannot X-ray the flowers. You can't just X-ray the tissue. Usually, you are looking at bones. But this is X-ray, this is the granularity, and then the resolution you get from it, which is really exciting.
As you can see, the services they can provide include surface imaging, laser shape analysis, and CT analysis, where you can view porosity and fiber orientation, and view defects layer by layer. Therefore, Radalytica's real goal is to help small and medium-sized enterprises acquire technologies that only large R&D groups or large aerospace companies could actually use.
In the lower right corner, you can see how they control the robot. It comes with a mouse, which I think is very interesting. What about the cost? Yes, the cost is still in the hundreds of 1,000 dollars, but not millions, you can work with them to customize what you need. Its price will definitely drop, which opens the door for companies that usually cannot use this technology in-house.
Today’s last example is similar to the use of robotics to reduce the cost of something we usually consider to be very large: injection molding. Jeff, that's more of your background in plastics. But when we think about injection molding, we think of 100,000 parts, very expensive tools, large setups, and high-pressure presses. This is a different view. Oops, this company is not in the Czech Republic-this is a copy and paste error. Sorry, they are in Germany and are a derivative product of ILK from the Dresden University of Technology. We wrote a lot of articles about them (ILK at the Dresden University of Technology) and they did a lot of very good work. They focus on the functionalization of parts and how to functionalize the overmolding provided by injection molding for parts, but the company can introduce it internally. So, they put it on the end of a robot, which is an end effector-you can see the red "U" in the upper right corner. That end effector actually uses composite materials to make it lightweight, and the molding tool is actually very centered, a bit above center. If you look directly under the orange robot, you will see a pair of metal plates with a semicircular hole at the top and a semicircular hole at the bottom. This is where the entire injection tool is there. It is miniaturized and used to functionalize parts.
For example, if you look at the tube with red plastic, you will find that you can perform injection molding on the carbon fiber tube. You can see other examples in the lower right corner, where you can inject the clip onto the chassis of the electric car, maybe, then you can also see the robot overmolding the extrudate coming out of a line in the middle of the slider . What is really exciting for me is seeing the examples they give you. So, think about the functional integrations on this slide. Those are LED lights, showing that you can actually inject mold pockets for LED lights, or for fasteners with core structures. When you see the load application part in the middle and bottom, you can see the red x on the web of the I-beam. So, where we can go to do this is very interesting. I'm currently blogging for Anybrid and Radalytica, and they will be published soon.
This is interesting to me, because if you think about how injection molding would be done without a system like yours, as you pointed out, machines tend to be much larger. Even for relatively discrete parts-for example, take the load-bearing floor in the lower right corner as an example-you must have a tool to fit the entire load-bearing floor, and then you can inject the mold around it wherever you want to inject, this Nothing is trivial. It is time consuming and expensive, and it is really creative to capture all these technologies in a relatively compact and obviously very easy to operate system, easy to move around the part, and apply the technology in a way I think there are really many interesting applications .
The replacement of the injection tool is quite easy, extending one meter from the side. So yes, I am like you, I see a lot of potential here.
Ginger, what are you doing now before we go?
Oh, let's see, we are finishing a lot of articles about composite additive manufacturing, which is really exciting. I think this will be a big problem in August. I am going to start an article about antennas integrated into the fuselage of an aircraft.
right. OK. Yes, so as Ginger just said, the additive manufacturing supplement will be a supplement to the August issue. So, you can look forward to it, and you can also look forward to the next episode of CW Trending, which will be launched in July. So please pay attention to this. Thanks Ginger for doing this, I am grateful.
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