CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association Fall 2023 Working Marine Vessels 3D-Printed Tooling University R&D Projects
CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association About the Cover: This unmanned surface vehicle made almost entirely of composites is one in a fleet that’s mapping the seabed of the Gulf of Maine for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Photo Courtesy of Saildrone Fall 2023 Features 8 14 19 Working on the Water.....................................10 Recreational boats garner lots of attention in the marine market, but workboats are a viable segment to pursue. Electric shuttles and uncrewed surface vehicles are two applications that rely heavily on composites. By Susan Keen Flynn 3D-Printed Tooling Is Taking Off.....................14 Adoption of additive manufacturing in the composites industry is increasing rapidly, and tooling presents a great opportunity for the technology. New equipment, processes and materials are aiding the effort. By Mary Lou Jay Beyond Basic Research..................................19 Two projects highlight how universities aren’t just geared to do basic research. They are well positioned to conducted applied engineering and development activities that can advance the composites industry. By Melissa O’Leary Market Segments Automotive.................................................. 6 Breakthrough Products Construction................................................ 8 MCFR Building System Departments & Columns From the ACMA Chair..............................2 Focus on Sustainability..............................3 Legislative & Regulatory..........................22 Ad Index....................................................23 Inside ACMA............................................24 Photo Credit: Sai Clemson University Photo Credit: Additive Engineering Photo Credit: RENCO USA Inc. Photo Credit: Saildrone
CompositesManufacturing 2 In September, I attended a fabulous networking and educational event sponsored by the Women in the Composites Industry group and hosted by Owens Corning at its Science & Technology Center in Ohio. More than 40 women participated in the event, which included a display highlighting milestones within the company and the composites industry. I was struck by how young our industry really is – and how many milestones we have yet to achieve. One of the keys to future success is research and development. There are so many materials, processes, technologies and applications waiting to be discovered or improved upon. In this issue of Composites Manufacturing magazine, an article on university R&D (page 19) focuses on projects that have moved from innovative ideas to commercialization or are on the path toward it. Another article on page 14 discusses how additive manufacturing is transforming toolmaking. Quality molds are so important. At Bestbath, showers are our primary product, and whatever ends up on the mold ends up on the final product. So, it’s imperative that we spend time, money and energy building and maintaining topnotch tooling. I’m intrigued to learn more about how 3D printing can help us. Finally, as the year winds down and we begin to think about 2024, I want to remind readers of the value that ACMA brings to members and the composites industry as a whole. The association leads the way in education, standards development, market growth, market intelligence and so much more. In particular, I want to point out the great work being done by ACMA’s government affairs team. They are busy planning the Composites 2024 Fly-In, scheduled Feb. 26 – 28, where attendees can meet face-to-face with members of Congress in Washington, D.C. They also are developing informative webinars on key topics. Some of the webinars available to members at my.acmanet.org cover the Global Plastics Treaty, the politics of “ESG” and tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act. ACMA provides a wealth of information – from webinars to Composites Manufacturing magazine to CAMX and more. Make sure you’re taking advantage of it all. Sincerely, Megan Multanen ACMA Chairman of the Board Co-CEO, Bestbath firstname.lastname@example.org From the ACMA Chair Composites Manufacturing Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association Publisher Cindy Squires email@example.com Editorial Managing Editor Susan Keen Flynn firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Marketing & Communications Eliana White email@example.com Editorial Design & Production Innovative Association Solutions, LLC firstname.lastname@example.org ias-online.net Advertising Sales Sr. Manager, Business Development John Catapano email@example.com All reprint requests should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org Volume 39 | Number 4 | Fall 2023 American Composites Manufacturers Association 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250 Arlington, VA 22201 Phone: 703-525-0511 Fax: 703-525-0743 email@example.com www.acmanet.org Composites Manufacturing (ISSN 1084-841X) is published quarterly by the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), ACMA Headquarters, 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250, Arlington, VA 22201 USA. Subscription rates: Free for members and non-members in the U.S., Canada and Mexico; $55 for international non-members. A free online subscription is available at cmmagazineonline. org. Periodical postage paid at Arlington, VA and additional mail offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Composites Manufacturing, ACMA Headquarters, 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250, Arlington, VA 22201. The magazine is mailed to ACMA members and is also available by subscription. Canada Agreement number: PM40063731 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor, ON N9A 6J5, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright© 2023 by ACMA. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted without permission from the publisher. ACMA, a nonprofit organization representing the composites industry worldwide, publishes Composites Manufacturing, circulation 7,550, as a service to its members and other subscribers. Opinions or statements of authors and advertisers appearing in Composites Manufacturing are their own and don’t necessarily represent that of ACMA, its Board of Directors or its staff. Information is considered accurate at the time of publication, however accuracy is not warranted. ACMA Offers a Wealth of Information
www.acmanet.org 3 Any sustainability project should start with a lifecycle assessment (LCA) no matter your objective – developing the environmental product declarations (EPDs) required for construction products, decarbonizing your manufacturing process, demonstrating full-lifecycle environmental benefits, supporting your customers’ net-zero pledges or ESG programs, complying with climate reporting requirements, recycling your plant scrap or buying recycled material for a manufacturing input. A cradle-to-gate LCA is the starting point because it provides a transparent estimate of the emission of climate warming gases and other environmental impacts associated with extraction of materials from nature and production of intermediate products (such as resin and reinforcement), the transportation of materials from point of extraction to your plant and the process used to manufacture your product. You may not be able to control what happens to your product after it leaves your factory, but you do have control over – and will be held responsible for – the environmental impacts associated with your product up to that point. Increasingly, customers or regulators will want to know the results of your cradleto-gate LCA and shortly thereafter will want to see your plan for reducing those impacts. This conception of the LCA as the necessary starting point for any company’s sustainability journey drives the development and implementation of ACMA’s Climate Impact Project (CIP). CIP programs are designed to help composites manufacturers cost effectively and reliably prepare cradle-to-gate LCA and, for construction products, translate LCA data into the standardized EPDs that allow comparison of impacts across products. ACMA’s Climate Impact Project provides the following resources and programs to help composites manufacturers develop the lifecycle assessments that are the starting point for reaching sustainability objectives: Industry average LCA for common raw materials – For the majority of LCAs that will be developed by composites manufacturers, ACMA’s industry average LCA for unsaturated polyester and vinyl ester resins, polyurethane precursors and glass fiber are the best available information and are acceptable for use in end-product LCAs. (Figure 1 on page 4 is a table from ACMA’s industry average LCA data for unsaturated polyester resin.) ACMA’s LCAs for these raw materials and intermediates are available in an ACMA report and via the lifecycle inventory database maintained by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (www.nrel. gov/lci/). Development of product category rules – For products provided for a specific construction application, like reinforcing bar for concrete structures, a product category rule guides the development of LCAs and EPDs so that the climate and other environmental impacts of product options for the application can be compared. Under the CIP, ACMA hires program operators to work with committees comprising industry professionals, end users, academic representatives and consultants to develop PCRs for construction applications that are important markets for composite products. Education on LCAs – ACMA has found that a significant barrier for companies is the lack of familiarity with lifecycle assessment. ACMA’s CIP is developing LCA/EPD case studies that will demonstrate the development and communication of environmental impacts assessment for actual composite products used in a variety of markets. ACMA is also producing a 3-hour video that will provide an in-depth introduction to LCAs and EPDs for composites manufacturers. Cost-effective and reliable LCAs and EPDs – ACMA believes there can be significant reductions in cost and improved responsiveness and reliability if composites manufacturers collectively prepare and have independently verified impacts data for common process inputs (such as resin, reinforcement and fillers) Sustainability Starts with an LCA By John Schweitzer Focus on Sustainability
CompositesManufacturing 4 and if these companies have access to LCA practitioners and EPD program operators that have experience with and access to the LCI databases for composite raw materials and processes. As part of the CIP, in 2024 ACMA will launch the CompositesLCA™ program that will provide independently verified LCAs and EPDs for composites manufacturers at a significantly reduced cost and increased reliability compared to what could be obtained by composites manufacturers independently. Comparing impacts across materials – On a cradle-to-gate basis, producing 1 kg of steel rebar using recycled steel in a hydroelectric-powered electric arc furnace is associated with emission of less than 1 kg CO2e, while producing the same mass of pultruded composite rebar is associated with the emission of more than 2 kg CO2e per kg product. That doesn’t mean use of steel is more climate friendly. Mass provides a poor basis for comparing the two products as the mass of composite rebar needed to reinforce a concrete deck is much lower. But what is the relevant basis for comparison? Possibly some physical property, such as the degree of bending under load that is related to important properties of the reinforced structure. This is an important question if we are going to successfully compete with other structural materials based on climate impacts. ACMA has commissioned an effort by researchers at West Virginia University to compare climate impacts of composite and steel components in structural applications and assess the utility of various bases of comparison, such as response under load. Companies that want to compete in sustainability-driven markets will likely need lifecycle analyses for their products. For member companies, ACMA is the source of information, resources and tools for cost effectively preparing the LCAs they will need. John Schweitzer is vice president of EH&S and sustainability at ACMA. Email comments to email@example.com. Supplying Marine, Transportation, Wind & Aerospace Markets with Fiberglass & Composite Core Kits. The Mahogany Company is the leader in the Composite Kit Industry The Mahogany Company has been family owned & operated for over 75 years. CM CAMX Oct 2023.indd 1 10/9/2023 6:27:32 PM Material Production Incoming Transport Process Energy Process Emissions TOTAL1 PERCENT TOTAL1 Fossil CO2 2,271 34.4 325 37.0 2,668 87% Methane 337 1.67 36.1 0.018 375 12% Nitrous Oxide 10.1 0.27 0.53 0 10.9 <1% Others 4.12 0.0033 0.0013 0 4.13 <1% TOTAL1 2,623 36.3 362 37.0 3,058 100% PERCENT TOTAL1 86% 1.2% 12% 1.2% 100% 1. Totals may not sum due to rounding Figure 1: Cradle-to-Gate CHGs for UPR Production (Pounds CO2 equivalents per 1,000 pounds unsaturated polyester resin) Note: The table is derived from ACMA’s industry average LCA data for unsaturated polyester resin. Most of the climate impact associated with the production of UPR is atributable to the manufacture of resin precusors.
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CompositesManufacturing 6 Automotive Photo Credit: WEAV3D Automotive Innovations During General Motors Composites Technology Days in August, ACMA members showcased breakthrough products to GM designers, engineers and decision makers. Here are a few of the solutions presented. Lattice Structures Replacing traditional solid laminates with a customized lattice structure in composite automotive body panels could potentially save OEMs money and reduce vehicle weight. The technology, developed by materials supplier WEAV3D, starts with an open, continuous fiber lattice made from unidirectional thermoplastic prepreg tapes. The component manufacturer adds a long fiber and/or short fiber reinforced polymer substrate to the lattice structure to define the part’s shape and thickness. The lattice can be laminated to the substrate in a separate process or co-molded with it through thermoforming, compression molding or injection overmolding. Adjusting the lattice’s weave density and/or tape types provides the necessary properties in different regions of a component. “By changing the lattice variables, we are able to locally tailor the stiffness, the strength and the toughness of the final part,” says Chris Oberste, WEAV3D’s president and chief engineer. A lattice-reinforced substrate can be up to 25 times stronger and 35 times stiffer than the substrate alone, according to Oberste. The lattice structure also offers the potential for multifunctionality. For instance, a conductive metal ribbon or foil placed in the lattice can handle the energy transfer capabilities for heatsinking or LED lighting, eliminating the need for a wire harness. That saves weight and reduces parts. WEAV3D recently partnered with Braskem and Clemson University to improve a composite car door’s beltline stiffener. “We replaced the organosheet material with lattice-reinforced polypropylene, reducing cost, weight and waste,” says Oberste. “While this is not intended to go into a production vehicle today, it is based on production vehicle design requirements and demonstrates the potential for the technology.” Composite Hinges A CFRP flexible drive shaft with virtual hinges could one day be used in vehicles to overcome the limitations of current drive shaft assemblies. Duncan Lawrie, president of Lawrie Technologies Inc. (LTI), has worked for 15 years to improve drive shafts, which transmit the torque provided by the diesel The lattice structure for this beltline stiffener component is made of glass fiber and carbon fiber reinforced polypropylene unidirectional tapes, then laminated on either side of an unreinforced polypropylene sheet.
www.acmanet.org 7 Photo Credit: BBA Fasteners engine or electric motor to the wheels. Drive shafts can become misaligned due to the motion of the wheels and transverse axles. OEMs currently address this problem with flexible couplings, such as universal joints, which are bolted to the drive shaft at each end. These connections require lubrication to avoid fretting corrosion, as well as rubber boots that seal the joints to maintain the lubrication. While the solution addresses misalignment, adding extra parts – the joints and rubber boots – increases the weight of the vehicle. LTI’s CFRP drive shaft eliminates these problems with integrated flexible couplings made via a precise filament winding process. “These virtual hinges behave like diaphragm couplings but don’t have to be bolted together because the assembled flexible shaft is all one piece,” Lawrie says. This reduces the number of parts required for a drive shaft assembly and decreases installation time and required maintenance. Lawrie says the CFRP drive shaft is inherently balanced and can be designed to meet the desired specifications for natural frequencies, torsional buckling and allowable misalignment. The optimal geodesic path of the carbon fibers prevents hysteretic heating – even at high misalignments – and provides for infinite fatigue life. LTI has successfully tested the flexible drive shaft in a prototype aircraft and 6,000-horsepower seawater pumps. Although the cost is currently too high for low-volume automotive production, Lawrie believes the technology could be competitively priced for runs of 10,000 units or more. Joining Rivet Nuts Joining automotive composite components when only one side of a hole is accessible can be challenging. When the blind rivet nuts currently used are inserted and tightened, their sleeve collapses and expands against the inside of the hole to hold it tight. This works fine for metal parts but not for composite parts. With soft composites, the radial expansion of the sleeve may push the material aside so that the bolt expands inside the hole rather than behind it. With harder composites, the pressure of the expansion can cause microcracking and eventual deterioration of the hole, resulting in joint failure. To overcome these problems, automakers may bond nuts or spacers to the parts before using the bolts. However, these take extra time to install and frequently fall off. Vehicle designers may insert steel brackets at the joining points or thicken the composite material near the hole to prevent microcracking. But both approaches add unwanted weight. BBA Fasteners developed steel and aluminum rivet nuts with bulge control technology (BCT) as a lighter, faster and more effective alternative. “The BCT fastener has four holes at 90 degrees to each other. When the tool goes into the rivet nut and pulls upon it, it weakens the fastener so that it forms a bulge at a predetermined point,” says Tim Bartlett, CEO, BBA Fasteners. The bulge spreads out wider than a collar, reducing the risk of microcracking and hole failure. Although BCTs are not commonly used in North America, Fiat and other European OEMs have used them in vehicles for years. In the U.S., electric vehicle companies are now incorporating them in their new vehicle designs. Mary Lou Jay is a freelance writer based in Timonium, Md. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. The BCT fastener is designed to form a bulge at a predetermined point, limiting microcracking around the hole in joined composite components. Unlimited Applications Unmatched Performance Is it possible to increase strength and stiffness while reducing weight and cost? With Vectorply composite reinforcement fabrics it is! Our wide range of fiberglass, carbon and aramid fabrics, combined with industryleading technical services and support can take your product higher, farther, and faster with less weight and labor. Giving your product the competitive edge is our business. Learn more at vectorply.com. 1-800-577-4521 | www.vectorply.com
CompositesManufacturing 8 Construction A 96-unit, four-building apartment complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., is going up in record time – approximately eight weeks per building – thanks to a patented mineral composite fiber reinforced (MCFR) building system from RENCO USA Inc. While the construction is rapid, testing and approvals of the MCFR building system were lengthy. RENCO USA has spent more than a decade getting its material certified for use in the United States under the International Building Code and within the stringent requirements for High Velocity Hurricane Zones in the Florida Building Code. Inspired by Legos® and traditional concrete masonry units (CMUs), the interlocking building system was initially developed by Engin Yesil, RENCO USA co-founder, and has been in use in Turkey since 2012. The system was brought to the U.S. by Tom Murphy, Jr., RENCO co-founder and CEO of Coastal Construction Group, the company spearheading the West Palm Beach demonstration project. “One of our biggest hurdles to get through is now probably one of our biggest attributes and assets,” says Patrick Murphy, executive vice president of Coastal Construction. “We’ve already gone through 400-plus tests and a decade of testing to get these approvals.” Now, RENCO’s products can be used like other traditional building materials, without the need to secure engineering evaluation reports for their use on every project. The MCFR building blocks are a patented blend of chopped roving; continuous filament mat; post-consumer, re-purposed resin; and calcite. The resulting mix lends itself to an incredibly strong building system. “A typical CMU will break under a compressive load of about 1,600 psi. Our blocks break at 16,000 psi,” says Ken Smuts, president of RENCO USA. “A typical masonry block doesn’t have any tensile strength other than the rebar you put in it. Our blocks have 5,000 psi of tensile strength, and we have 14,000 psi of flexural strength.” Components are fabricated through a combination of processes. Sill plates are formed through compression molding, while injection molding is used to manufacture the 8 x 8 x16-inch hollow blocks that are stacked to form the structural walls. Linear elements – including joists, bridging, decking, lintels, window and door bucks, and cap pieces – are pultruded. In the field, each component of the system is joined with a methyl methacrylate adhesive, creating a chemical bond that requires no additional reinforcement. Smuts says that the light weight of the system delivers significant installation advantages. Because a RENCO block weighs about 8.5 pounds, compared to a typical CMU’s 40 pounds, the product Apartments Built with Interlocking Composite Blocks A four-building apartment complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., is constructed from a mineral composite fiber reinforced building system. Photo Credit: RENCO USA Inc.
www.acmanet.org 9 requires minimal use of heavy machinery on the job site. Laborers assemble blocks by hand until the walls are approximately waist height. Then they climb on a rolling baker scaffold and erect the remainder of the project from inside the building. Lifts raise the pallets of material to working level, and blocks are assembled using only a mallet and a glue gun. There is no measuring or cutting required. As the walls go up, the builders have noticed an additional advantage: The material doesn’t wick water – it repels it. “Here in Florida, it rains two hours every afternoon and it’s as hot as can be,” says Smuts. “We’ve built concrete buildings throughout the state, and they are super humid and tough to work in during the summer months.” The MCFR block, on the other hand, remains dry. “It seems cool. There’s no humidity in the building, so the trades enjoy working in it,” Smuts says. However, the biggest advantage of this system is ease of assembly. “There’s no carpenters, no rod setters, no masons,” Smuts says. “We use unskilled laborers who get trained quickly to put these buildings together.” Plans are color-coded so that construction workers know exactly where to place each component. For the construction industry, where shortages for skilled labor make it virtually impossible for housing supply to keep up with demand, this simplicity represents a significant change. Because the materials are part of the building code there are fewer required inspections, which further speeds up the process. “We have a sill plate that gets bolted to the concrete foundation, so there’s an inspection there,” Smuts says. “Once that’s done, you can go as high as you want because you already have the compressive strength. You’re not waiting for anything to cure. You’re not waiting for subcontractors to do their rough-in or to get out of the way.” Once assembled, the MCFR materials can be finished or renovated like any other conventional building system. The three-story buildings in the demonstration project, designed by Arquitectonica with structural engineering support from DeSimone, have been well received. The first two buildings were fully occupied by September, while the final buildings welcomed occupants in October. “People love it,” Smuts says. RENCO’s building system is currently approved for structures up to five stories. The company is pursuing expanded approvals for taller structures and completing seismic testing for additional earthquake zones. Moreover, the company has secured financing to establish a manufacturing facility in Jupiter, Fla. Currently, all materials are manufactured in Turkey and shipped to the United States. By the first quarter of 2024, the U.S. facility will be up and running and begin work to meet its goal of building 6,000 apartments and single-family homes per year. Megan Headley is a freelance writer in Fredericksburg, Va. She can be reached at email@example.com. Each of the four buildings were constructed in approximately eight weeks using the interlocking building system. Photo Credit: RENCO USA Inc. Interlocking composite blocks are assembled using a mallet and glue gun Photo Credit: RENCO USA Inc.
CompositesManufacturing 10 When people think of the marine industry, they typically envision pleasure yachts. While recreational boats dominate the market, there’s a less heralded segment that’s worthy of attention – workboats. The global industrial workboats market reached $2.5 billion in 2022 and is forecast to exceed $4.6 billion by 2032, according to an analysis by market research firm Fact.MR. The report attributes several factors to anticipated growth, including: • The push to minimize the carbon footprint of shipping fleets, aided by developments in hybrid technology and electric vessels. • Increased demand for floating offshore wind energy, which will require workboats to complete construction projects. • The drive to design workboats that are versatile and efficient, employing advanced technology and materials. Companies involved in the market are motivated by the potential, while recognizing the unique needs of working boats. “When a boat has to go to work, it needs to be functional and last a long time. It needs to make a business case,” says Eric Jambor, lead project engineer at Janicki Industries, an engineering and manufacturing firm in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. “For a long time, the marine industry played it safe, but we’re now starting to push the envelope of what can be done for the cost invested. That’s very exciting.” There are many kinds of boats laboring on the water, several of which are noted in the sidebar on page 11. In this article, we share stories about two of them – electric ferries and autonomous vessels. Both highlighted applications rely on composite materials to promote environmentally friendly vehicles powered by electricity, solar panels or wind energy. Electric Shuttles to Replace Diesel Ferries Candela, a manufacturer of hydrofoil electric boats based in Sweden, is trialing an innovative ferry from the Stockholm suburb Ekerö to the city center that cuts travel times from 55 minutes to 25 minutes. The 30-passenger Candela P-12 Shuttle can travel up to 60 nautical miles at 25 knots on one charge thanks, in part, to three computer-guided CFRP hydrofoils that extend from under the hull, lifting the boat out of the water and decreasing drag. Candela developed the P-12 Shuttle as an alternative to conventional, large diesel ferries. “The average passenger load factor in Stockholm is 17%, meaning that a 350-passenger vessel carries on average 50 persons,” says Mikael Mahlberg, head of public relations and communications at Candela. “Our proposition is to replace these few and inefficient polluting shuttle ferries with a greater number of P-12s, which would lead to more frequent departures and faster travel times while cutting operational costs.” Working on the Water These sustainable vessels get the job done while reducing the carbon footprint of maritime activities. By Susan Keen Flynn All the structural components on the electric Candela P-12 Shuttle, including its trademark hydrofoils, are made from CFRP. Photo Credit: Candela
www.acmanet.org 11 Mahlberg refers to the shuttles as “a bus line system on the water.” The first P-12 Shuttle was slated to begin service in the fall, followed by six months of trials and full insertion into the public transport system in the spring of 2024. All the structural components on the 12-meter-long shuttle, from the hydrofoils to the hull, are made from CFRP. The components, which are vacuum infused, feature multiaxial carbon fiber fabric ranging from 400 to 800 grams per square meter and epoxy resin. Candela’s commitment to electrification of waterborne transport required it to overcome technical challenges. “Conventional vessels use so much energy going through the water,” he says. “For electrification to happen without substantial subsidies and across many routes, you need to make vessels that have great performance, long range, better economy of features and new features to give advantages over current diesel vessels.” Candela’s hydrofoil technology is the key ingredient to economical electrification of the shuttles. Mahlberg says the hydrofoils cut energy use by 80% and are compatible with current battery technology. In addition, the shuttle relies on a smaller battery than other electric passenger ships of the same size – approximately 260 kilowatt hours (kWh) – which Mahlberg says makes it much less expensive to purchase and 60% to 70% cheaper to operate than diesel ferries. “Since it is so efficient, it doesn’t require large investments in charging infrastructure,” he says. “An automobilestyle DC charger at the route’s end station is enough.” Prior to developing the P-12 Shuttle, Candela made a series of leisure boats, which provided invaluable experience in the engineering and production of CFRP vessels. But the scale and constant need for shedding weight presented obstacles in making shuttles for public transportation. “In our niche – coastal vessels – serial production is mostly unheard of. An operator might order one to three units with the same design, but the next operator comes along and orders another design specific to their needs,” says Mahlberg. “We’ve tried to make a boat that works for many cases and dock heights. By making a standardized model, we can drive down costs.” Candela hopes its P-12 Shuttle will bring back waterborne mobility to urban areas and compete favorably with cars and buses. “We’re offering a solution for replacing gas-guzzlers with a sustainable vessel that is faster and much more comfortable for passengers, while offering cost savings over conventional vehicles,” says Mahlberg. Marine Drones for Data Collection When Hurricane Idalia traveled up the Gulf Coast of Florida sustaining 125 mph winds, it unmoored and destroyed small boats. But it wasn’t a match for a couple of uncrewed surface vehicles (USV) in its path. Saildrone’s USVs, made primarily from composite materials and stainless steel, gathered data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help it better predict storms. NOAA is just one of Saildrone’s customers, which include a wide range of government agencies, universities, foundations and research groups that require ocean data. “Saildrone’s mission is to find ways to sustainably explore, map and monitor the world’s oceans,” says Mark Cuyler, chief operating officer. “We offer a great platform to go places that are hard to reach and be there for long durations.” The company has three classes of vehicles, all of which feature a patented wind propulsion system and solar-powered meteorological and oceanographic sensors to perform longrange data collection missions. The first USV the company developed was the 7-meter-long Explorer. It includes a lead • Barges • Crew Boats • Dredges • Drilling Ships • Fishing Boats • Emergency Response Vessels • Icebreakers • Liftboats • Patrol Boats • Research Vessels • Rescue Boats • Sternwheelers • Supply Boats • Tugboats • Water Taxis 15 Applications to Target Aside from ferries and autonomous vessels, here are 15 other working boats: Saildrone is working with the U.S. Navy to develop a hybrid fleet for long-term operations of unmanned and manned forces. Photo Credit: Saildrone
CompositesManufacturing 12 keel and a GFRP hull and wing. The USV runs 100% on renewable energy, using solar panels to charge a lithium battery that operates the vehicle’s systems and sensors. The 10-meter-long, hybrid Voyager class was introduced in 2022 and features a GFRP hull and wing and a keel made from lead and stainless steel. In addition to the battery, it includes a small diesel generator to increase endurance. “It’s a step function improvement to the first USV,” says Cuyler. “There is a base set hull with modular payload boxes that can be taken in and out without having to reconfigure the hull.” Saildrone is currently developing its third platform, the 20-meter-long, diesel/electric Surveyor. The hull is aluminum, and the 44-foot-tall wing is GFRP. “The Surveyor is large enough to go after a customer base that needs something more rugged and heavy to go to really challenging areas of our globe,” says Cuyler. Composites are an integral part of the multimaterial autonomous vehicles. One of the biggest benefits is durability. “We’re in an ocean environment, so corrosion is a huge factor,” says Cuyler. “Everything on these vehicles corrodes if it’s not composite.” A second advantage of composites is their design flexibility. “We are able to create shapes and configurations that are designed for aerodynamics and easy to manufacture,” says Cuyler. “You can achieve shapes with glass fiber that you can’t do with metals.” In addition, composite materials allow Saildrone to rapidly iterate different designs, introducing new capabilities or adding sensors. Janicki Industries is one of Saildrone’s manufacturing partners on the Voyager. It provides the upright rigid wing, deck hatches and a keel fairing made from composite materials, as well as some stainless steel components, including the keel fin and payload plates. The composite components are primarily out-of-autoclave prepregs – a mix of GFRP and CFRP in selective spots, some foam cored and some solid laminate. Janicki uses standard aerospace processes, including temperature-rated carbon tools and an NC-Ply™ kit for the laminate and core. Components are laid up by hand, vacuum bagged and cured in an oven. However, being a trusted partner isn’t just about delivering products; it’s a true collaboration. Saildrone provided an initial design package for the Voyager, then Janicki built the tools and vehicle components. The company offered invaluable manufacturing support along the way. “What are ways we can reduce the cost? Where can we look at reducing the complexity of the manufacturing? Janicki is really good at bringing that information back to us: If you tweak this or move that, you can eliminate a part that isn’t necessary, which saves on cost and improves efficiency,” says Cuyler. The companies also worked together to standardize processes, which has helped Janicki maintain its targeted 95% first pass yield rate. For example, the mast requires several concentric stations with bushings that need to be installed and bonded in place, all relative to the wing. “We leveraged our aerospace capabilities and our large 5-axis machines to get a really solid fixture that we don’t have to think about,” says Jambor. “We don’t have to measure everything every single time. It’s repeatable, it’s accurate and it works.” Janicki has recently begun work on the new Surveyor platform, providing design guidance to Saildrone’s engineers. While Saildrone is building the wings inhouse, Janicki will fabricate the trim tail off the back of the wing. “We are all working together to help achieve Saildrone’s goals,” says Bryan Harris, program manager for Janicki’s Industrial Division. “We aren’t just trying to check boxes and fulfill a contract. We are trying to help them be successful.” Susan Keen Flynn is managing editor of Composites Manufacturing magazine. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo Credit: Janicki Industries Orion Collins, standing, and Tino Zenon-Esteba from Janicki Industries perform final inspection and ship preparations on a Voyager wing.
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CompositesManufacturing 14 3D-Printed Tooling Is Taking Off Additive manufacturing is overcoming early hurdles to become a viable option for mold making in many industries. By Mary Lou Jay Additive Engineering 3D-printed this leading-edge bond tool for aircraft production in 30 hours. Photo Credit: Additive Engineering
www.acmanet.org 15 A decade ago, manufacturing large composite tooling was generally an expensive, months-long process. But things began to change in 2014, when the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Cincinnati Inc. introduced the first Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) multi-material printer and demonstrated how it could produce tooling at a lower cost and in a matter of days. Over time, as the additive manufacturing (AM) industry matured and introduced new equipment, processes and materials, composites manufacturers learned to identify the strengths and the limitations of the technology for composite tooling. Andy Bridge, director of business development at Additive Engineering Solutions, says AM now is at a “hockey stick moment,” with its adoption in composites on a steep upward curve after several years of exploratory applications. “We’re in the next chapter of the technology,” he says. “We are helping to guide customers on potential applications. We are asking, ‘Where does it make sense and deliver value? Where can it produce something of quality? Where does it work for cost and schedule? What size tools is it good for, and what kinds of tools?’ Building from six years of design experience, we have definitely found some very good applications for large format additive manufacturing (LFAM).” Printing Improvements Most of the advances in AM today are evolutionary, building and improving upon previous technology. For example, Additive Engineering’s four LFAM printers are original BAAM overhead gantry systems that have been extensively modified. But the extrusion head on the company’s new equipment from CEAD will be mounted on an articulating industrial robot. The CEAD printer will have more freedom of motion, including printing at 45- and 50-degree angles. It will be able to print tooling as long as the rails it runs on and as high as the robot’s reach. Both the CEAD printer and BAAM printers will be able to lay down 50 to 100 pounds of material an hour, so few tooling projects will take more than 24 to 36 hours to print. Additive Engineering uses its printers for two main applications – prototypes/large-scale mockups and composite tooling. The tooling also falls under two categories, with the company printing lay-up molds and various process tooling, such as mill fixtures, preforming and bond tools. The bond tools, often required in the aerospace industry, are used when bonding a honeycomb core under vacuum to a precured composite skin laminate. The company’s current LFAM printers use thermoplastic pellets with carbon fiber or glass fiber. Pellets have the advantage of being a widely available commodity and are approximately 25% the cost of filament used in other small-scale AM methods, Bridge says. Thermoplastics don’t require time in the autoclave or oven after the print is complete, which enables faster tooling production. But the print speed is critical because the beads of each layer bond to the next through a thermal process. In the early days of AM, many tools failed due to leaks in the beading layers, so they could not hold a vacuum, Bridge says. Engineers have learned to overcome this problem by controlling the speed and feed of the print and the temperature at the bead. “One of the things that we have figured out through a lot of trials and tribulations is what re-coat time we need, where the bead is within a certain temperature when you get back around so that you can still bond to it,” Bridge said. The solution depends not only on the material type but also the bead height and width, which Additive Engineering can adjust on its printers. Other advantages of AM thermoplastic tooling include reduced costs and less material waste. To produce tooling using traditional methods, a manufacturer would build a plug to make a face sheet, then cut out an aluminum or fiberglass plate for a backup support structure. That process results in approximately 30% to 40% waste, while printed tooling typically has a 5% scrap rate. Increased Opportunities One application that demonstrates the versatility of 3D-printed tooling is the creation of composite dies for stretch forming, which involves bending aluminum parts to fit certain curvatures. This process is frequently used in the aerospace industry, where an aircraft manufacturer may require as many as 70 dies for certain parts because of the aircraft’s varied curves. Using AM, Additive Engineering designed a time and moneysaving composite alternative for Spirit AeroSystems – a universal base with inserts that could be swapped out to achieve the desired curvatures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Maine and Ingersoll printed tooling with embedded wiring for heating, which maintains the tool at the desired temperature for manufacturing a part. Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
CompositesManufacturing 16 “It eliminated all of the storage required for the metal dies, and the composite inserts are easy to store and lightweight so that one person can pick them up and swap them out,” says Bridge. Mill fixtures, designed to hold a part at room temperature, are another area where AM-printed tools have delivered value and achieved good market penetration. Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and other companies are now using them in their major programs. There are still some limitations and unknowns surrounding AM printing. One is durability. “When it comes to using these tools at 250 F to 350 F, there isn’t a lot of data about how long they will last. Most people are using them for prototyping or low-rate initial production for five, 10 or 50 parts with good success, but not for 1,000 parts,” says Bridge. In addition, the return on investment is minimal for printing tooling for mass production parts. Tool printing must be carefully planned because it is not right for every geometry. “For example, we can’t print vertically and then 90 degrees horizontally; there’s nothing to support the bead,” Bridge says. Additive Engineering can work around those limitations by printing pieces in different sections and orienting the tool in the printer, but that sometimes erodes cost and schedule savings. The company may also print a tool in two pieces to make milling an interior space easier. Another limitation is the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of thermoplastic tooling, which means that the mold will expand when it’s heated. Depending on the cure temperature, part size and geometry that can add risk that the molded parts will be out of tolerance. “We compensate for that by applying One of the big problems in the early days of 3D-printed tooling was the lack of coatings and finishes compatible with the technology. Tru-Design, which worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory on the 3D-printed Shelby Cobra, needed two weeks after printing and a crew of seven people to hand sand the vehicle’s exterior to the desired Grade A finish. The Cobra looked good during its appearance at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. But the finish didn’t hold up well when the car was shipped from sub-zero Detroit to Houston in a trailer that reached temperatures of 120-plus degrees. Incidents like this convinced Tru-Design’s CEO Rick Spears and John Miller, vice president of operations, that they needed a better solution. When they couldn’t find any off-theshelf coating products that worked well with printed tooling, they joined forces with CCP, now part of Polynt, to create formulations specifically for this technology. It was a two-year process. “We developed the coatings with three different goals in mind. The first one was adhesion. We needed something that had at least a 300-psi adhesion to the substrate material,” says Miller. “The second thing was that we needed something that would cover the lines that you get in a printed tool where the beads are laid down – something that would allow a continuous smooth surface.” The third goal was to develop a coating that had enough flexibility to stand up to temperature variations without cracking. Tru-Design introduced two products specifically for AM. TD Sand is a coating material designed to fill in the imperfections in 3D-printed tooling to create a smooth, even surface for manufacturing the composite part. TD Seal has a double purpose; it seals the mold so that it can maintain vacuum integrity and provides a high-gloss, Class A finish. Both coatings can be sprayed on with standard equipment. AM technology is now evolving at a faster speed as universities, research organizations and manufacturers push its limits. That presents new challenges and opportunities for coatings. “There are now 120 different materials that are being used for printing. Fortunately, there are only a few that we don’t get adhesion with,” says Miller. There’s still lots of room for improvements. TD Seal must be post-cured using heat, and some manufacturers using 3D printing don’t have ovens. So, Tru-Design is developing a formula that does not require heat curing. It is also working on coatings that can withstand higher temperatures, hoping to boost the current limits from 350 F to above 400 F. Smoothing the Way for AM Tooling Achieving a smooth finished part using a 3D-printed mold required the development and application of coatings specially designed for additive manufacturing, TD Sand and TD Seal. Photo Credit: Tru-Design
www.acmanet.org 17 shrink factors, avoiding certain geometries and simulating the expansion, all with the goal of ensuring a cured part will fit up correctly,” Bridge says. Current Research ORNL continues to develop different capabilities to integrate with its LFAM printers. The lab has several ongoing projects involving composite tooling. “One of the exciting things that we are doing with the current technology is embedding self-heating nichrome wires inside thermoplastic tools during the extrusion process,” says Ahmed Arabi Hassen, group leader, Composites Innovation Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To accomplish this, researchers retrofit an existing thermoplastic extrusion-based AM machine with a wire coextrusion module. As a part is being made in the mold, the researchers can heat up the tool using joule heating, thereby eliminating the need for autoclave or oven curing. ORNL researchers also developed a new method to join AM tools. While manufacturers can currently join smaller tool segments to form larger molds, it is difficult to maintain vacuum integrity. With ORNL’s method, mold segments are machined Additive Engineering’s four large format additive manufacturing printers can print tooling up to 20 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and six feet high, usually in less than two days. Photo Credit: Additive Engineering Your Performance – Made by Roth Your partner for high quality machinery > High level automation > More process and material efficiency > Low maintenance, longevity and durability > Tailormade solutions e.g. for aerospace industry, automotive industry and future mobility industry Roth Composite Machinery GmbH Filament Winding & Prepreg Machinery • Bauhofstr. 2 • 35239 Steffenberg • Germany • Phone +49 (0)6464/9150-0 Roth USA • Joe Jansen • email@example.com www.roth-composite-machinery.com • firstname.lastname@example.org