1. Filament winding is a process in which dry fibrous materials (often referred to as “Tow”) are systematically applied to a rotating tool. Rock West Composites filament winds carbon fiber however other materials such as fiberglass can be used too.
2. Engineering requirements of the tube dictate the number of “Tows” that will be wound. These carbon filament tows are mounted in the kreel and routed through guides that direct the dry tow through a resin bath. Tight controls every step of the way ensures that the resin to fiber ratio is consistent and that temperatures are within spec. Three primary variables dictate the tube being built and all have a critical relationship in production of the final product or tube. These include:
a. The speed of the carriage,
b. The speed of the rotating tool or mandrel, and
c. The material being used.
3. Fibers oriented along the length yield a stiffer tube in simple bending. Fibers wound at a +/45 orientation will be most effective at transmitting torque for drive shafts and other twisting applications. Occasionally other off-axis angles are deployed, tailored to the end use of the product being built.
4. Filament Winding can be set up to be a semi-autonomous process, cutting costs as well as duplicating high performance parts across manufacturing batches. We will often wind 4 parts at one time effectively reducing the manufacturing touch labor by a large factor.
5. Another advantage offered by filament winding is the ability to manufacture parts in long lengths. Many customers specify extra-long lengths in order to maximize yield even if the final part is short. There are a handful of applications that require long continuous lengths of tubing such as industrial rollers for paper mills. This process offers the benefits of increased stiffness since we are able to utilize continuous fibers.
6. Utilizing continuous strands yields a stronger finished product as well as guarantees the proper transfer of mechanical stresses through the part when put to use.
7. All filament wound tubing that we produce requires a sacrificial layer of heat sensitive nylon wrapped over the part prior to being placed in the oven for curing. This nylon provides compaction during cure and drives out remaining air introduced during the winding operation.
8. Once cured, the part is ready to be pulled from the tool and further machined if required. The majority of our tubing online is offered sanded smooth which allows for a tighter outer diameter control.
Companies: Rock West Composites
Technologies: Filament Winding
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