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This is the most vital stepping-stone to moving from CAD to reality, making the very first functional item to validate the concept, functionality or whatever the main purpose may be. Prototyping strategy, and prototypes themselves serve numerous purposes from engineering, production and costing standpoints. Industry standard documentation systems are fundamental to ensuring that manufacturing considerations and constraints are incorporated from the very beginning, both at conceptual and physical levels.
Proper prototyping can make tremendous differences in the time frame, product effectiveness and value for money of the project as a whole…
Before production can begin, whatever the volume, the manufacturing process has to be certified as reliable, repeatable, and consistent, using industry-standard mechanisms such as PSW, PPAP and FAIRs. This provides objective confirmation that all engineering design and specification requirements are documented, incorporated, accounted for and verified. This includes –but not limited to- verifying the accuracy of part drawings, making sure all changes made to part designs are taken account of. It also includes the production machinery, validating that the tooling used has the ability to produce parts to the required specification.
There is more to certifying the manufacturing process than meets the eye – the validation mechanism can be almost as complex as the process itself…
Manufacturing facility set-up
When clients establish their own facility, ensuring an optimum physical lay-out for production flow depends on many factors, beyond the details of the manufacturing process. We bring our extensive experience to bear on step-by-step implementation with scaled capital investment for equipment acquisition, always ensuring and optimum end-point performance.
In our technologically complex age, Composites are deployed for a myriad of functions other than simply achieving improved strength and lower weight. Many other more complex mechanical properties are possible, such as enhanced creep and fatigue resistance, or anisotropic stiffness. These properties are achieved not only through the selection of input materials, but also by carefully tailor-making the manufacturing process that brings them together.
Particularly when budgets are extremely tight, or with sizable components –such as boat/yacht hulls- this process is an obvious choice. Low-volume productions can be made with wet lay-up cost-effectively.
Because the material is placed manually in the mould, more complex shapes are possible, and better mechanical properties can be obtained. However, manufacturing cycles can be longer and costlier.
This is a good balance between limiting costs, but still achieving better mechanical properties than Wet Lay-up. Resin infusion comes into its own when looking for a professional result and a scalable process, or when prototyping parts for future RTM applications on a limited budget.
This is an evolution of Filament Winding – instead of weaving a single continuous thread, multiple threads are woven into the fabric. Lamination can be done with different types of continuous fibre. An additional benefit is that the orientation of the fibre is not restricted to one plane only, making anisotropic properties easier to achieve
With this manufacturing method, the highest mechanical properties of the material used are obtained (as with Pre-Preg). Dual-temperature curing to obtain different strengths in the same piece is not necessary, as different rigidities can be obtained by varying the number of layers from one side of the component to the other.
The salient characteristic of this raw material is derived from its short fibres impregnated with resin, giving a high adaptability to the mould cavity. A collateral benefit is a considerably lower-cost raw material compared to long fibre, which together with its low waste and short cure cycle, makes it a key technology when converting to advanced materials in whatever industry.
This material adds the advantages of long fibres to shorter curing cycles and much cheaper raw material. As with Pre-Preg, quite complex shapes can also be made in one single piece.
This technology is usually deployed to make pipes from Composites. A rotating structure is needed to make the required shape from the thread, making this a highly automated process.
For simple and invariant geometries such as tubes, reinforcements and angle pieces, pultrusion facilitates producing high-strength low-weight components in a continuous process.
Industry in general, and Composites in particular, has been revolutionized by the advent of 3D printing. It allows complex geometries and components to be made that couldn’t be made with traditional technologies.