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07

Apr

Basalt Fiber Sailboat

Carbon fiber has established itself as a wonder material in vehicle construction, with its mix of low weight and high strength being prized for many of the world’s most advanced vehicles of land, sea and air. Austrian company Fipofix believes that it’s identified a material better-suited to the high seas, saying that its specially processed volcanic fiber-based composite, more commonly known as basalt fiber, offers a better performance-price ratio than carbon fiber or fiberglass and can be recycled after use. The company is in the process of testing the material in some of the world’s most extreme marine conditions.

 Though basalt fiber isn’t a household term like fiberglass or carbon fiber, it’s not a new composite, either. According to a 2006 article published on CompositesWorld.com, basalt fiber was originally patented in the US in 1923. Fipofix’s claimed innovation isn’t so much in the material, then, but in the processing and application of that material. The company began as a 2009 collaboration between Austrian technology group Kapsch and Yacht Construction Consulting. The parties innovated a new way of processing brittle, touchy volcanic fibers into rugged, unidirectional fabric purpose-built for nautical use. They called the processing system “Fiber Positioning Fixation” (or Fipofix), submitted a patent application in 2011, then formed Fipofix GmbH.

“Positioning fibers without damaging them represents the greatest challenge in the manufacturing of composite materials,” Kapsch explained in 2013. “Up to 40 percent of the filaments of a roving are damaged in previous processing methods, such as weaving, stapling and sewing, which results in decreased performance of the product under compressive and tensile loads. Fipofix bonds the positioned fibers to the respective matrix for the final processing of the fabric without using foreign materials for fixation, such as yarns, clamps or other adhesives that additionally weaken the part.”

Fipofix believes the resulting basalt fiber composite is optimally suited for nautical applications, stating that it is hydrophobic, UV- and heat-resistant, fireproof, and acid-proof, while creating a hard surface that can absorb vibration and shock. It’s also a more eco-friendly solution, being sourced from a sustainable, natural material and being 100 percent recyclable, setting it apart from carbon fiber and fiberglass, which offer limited recycling potential. Another claim is that it offers a superior cost-benefit ratio compared to both fiberglass and notoriously high-priced carbon fiber.

All those properties look great on paper, but they’re only valuable insomuch as Fipofix’s UD basalt fiber composite actually performs. With help from Yacht Construction Consulting, Fipofix built the “Proof of Principle” Open 16 sailing yacht to test the material out on the choppy high seas. The 16-ft (5.6-m) vessel’s hull and deck were built from a sandwich construction with an inner and outer layer of Fipofix UD volcanic composite laminated to a balsa wood core. The keel fin was also crafted from Fipofix UD, while the mast and rigging used carbon, stainless steel and other materials. Augmenting the sail power was a small, 5-hp motor powered by a 55 Ah battery hooked up to a flexible solar panel mounted on the cabin roof.

The Fipofix Open 16 at the 2015 Boot Dusseldorf show (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag.com)

The Open 16 was baptized by fire, its first test being a 133-day voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean from Europe to North America and back, a total of 10,000 nautical miles (18,500 km). While the journey could have been disastrous if Fipofix UD didn’t perform to expectations, it was instead highly successful. Not only did the yacht complete the journey through some harsh, trying storm conditions (it took place between November 2013 and July 2014), but under the captainship of Harald Sedlacek it set three claimed world records in the process. The company says that when the yacht landed in Les Sables d’Olonne, France to complete its voyage, its Fipofix structural elements and components were all in prime working condition, with no significant damage to be found.

The Open 16 traveled from Les Sables d'Olonne, France, to Gijon, Spain, to Palm Beach, Florida...

Fipofix hopes to supply other nautical and industrial customers with its basalt fiber composite. It says that the material can be adjusted in weight, breadth and length to meet individual customer needs, without high retooling costs. Beyond shipbuilding, Fipofix believes its material could find use in a variety of sporting equipment, including surfboards, waterskis and snowboards.

Source: FipofixKapsch

Shop for basalt materials here

16

Mar

Basalt Fiber

Basalt fiber is formed from melted, drawn, basalt rock, which is a ubiquitous natural resource covering nearly one-third of the earth’s surface, including much of the ocean floor. Many natural formations that have become popular tourist destinations are also made of basalt rock.

To turn rock into fiber, basalt furnaces are heated to approximately 1,500 degrees Celsius, 200 degrees hotter than similar fiberglass furnaces, to melt the rock before it is drawn through platinum/rhodium bushings to form basalt fibers. As fibers leave the furnace, they are treated with sizing, which prepares them for use in downstream applications and for binding with resin systems. Sizing for basalt fiber is very similar to fiberglass in chemistry and purpose. Basalt fiber sizing helps protect the fiber and promote adhesion between fiber and polymer.

Basalt fiber is available as continuous material or can also be chopped, milled, twisted, woven, knitted or processed many other ways. It is typically 13 or 17 micrometers (μm) in diameter but can range from 9 to 21 μm.Basalt fiber is compatible with any standard resin system.

For use in FRP applications, basalt fiber is processed similarly to fiberglass. Nearly any process that currently uses fiberglass can use basalt as a substitute material with limited changes to key processing conditions.

Basalt fiber, which can easily replace fiberglass as a reinforcement, occupies the middle of the market for both price and performance when compared to fiberglass and carbon fiber. It provides significant mechanical performance advantages over fiberglass while being much less costly than carbon fiber for parts that require added performance. Basalt fiber is stiffer and stronger than fiberglass and has shown, in some circumstances, to provide additional impact performance.

Although basalt is slightly denser than fiberglass, at 2.63 g/cm3, its extra performance advantages mean composites with basalt fiber can be even more lightweight and unlock additional design creativity when compared to fiberglass. Basalt is also significantly higher performing and more insulative in high-temperature conditions. For example, basalt is used in heat shields and mufflers.

One of the most common market segments for basalt fiber is infrastructure, where alkali resistance, stiffness, strength and overall cost/performance ratio are highly desired. However, basalt fiber is a good reinforcement option in a variety of applications.

You can find BEYOND MATERIALS™ Basalt products here

compositesmanufacturingmagazine, by 

10

Feb

CARBON FIBER CRASH TEST

 
Carbon fiber is a wonderful material. Offering both high strength and low weight, carbon fiber combines two characteristics seemingly at odds with one another to form a very desirable end product, something which is particularly valuable in an automotive application.
 
“In contrast to a steel body where bending helps the integrated crumple zones to reduce the amount of crash energy that reaches the vehicle’s occupants, carbon fiber dissipates the energy by cracking and shattering,” the automaker explains in a press release.
 
This is the first time Volvo and Polestar are experimenting with a carbon fiber reinforced polymer body and researching it in real crash scenarios.With this new testing procedure, Polestar explains, the company wants to prepare its cars for the things that are not planned, such as accidents.
Beyond Materials™ – growing supplier of innovative composite materials.
 
06

Feb

Composite Fabrication Methods

There are numerous methods for fabricating composite components. Some methods have been borrowed (injection molding from the plastic industry, for example), but many were developed to meet specific design or manufacturing challenges faced with fiber-reinforced polymers.

Carbon Fiber and other Composite fabrication processes typically involve some form of molding, to shape the resin and reinforcement. A mold tool is required to give the unformed resin/fiber combination its shape prior to and during cure.

 

Choice of fabrics

Choosing a fabric type is mostly dependant on two factors – weave type and thickness.  Determining the weave type is based upon your aesthetic and conformability requirements.  The most common fabric chosen for aesthetic applications is typically a 3K 2×2 twill for carbon fabric applications.  This fabric provides the most elegant look of all weave types.  One of the most flexible fabrics is generally a twill weave (note that a 4×4 twill will be more flexible than a 2×2).  The least conforming fabric is a plain weave.

 

What thickness you need in a particular fabric is dependent on your application.  For cosmetic purposes using carbon fiber fabric, a 3K carbon is often an ideal choice.  For structural applications, the most cost effective solution is to use the thickest possible fabric.  Thicker fabrics are cheaper per sqm than multiple layers of thinner fabrics, although thinner fabrics will generally conform better to complex curves than thicker fabrics.

 

 

The Overlay Method

The overlay method is the simplest of all the laminating methods.  Generally it involves finding an existing piece and sanding it lightly, then carbon fiber or other composite fabric is laid over the top of this existing piece, and resin is applied.  Finishing such a piece using the overlay method generally involves one of two techniques.  The first is sanding and/or buffing the finished overlay composite piece to a shine.  The second option is to sand the piece smooth, then apply a final coat of resin or add a clear coat, typically of urethane for epoxy, or a polyester clear coat for a polyester based resin.The overlay method is commonly used when one custom piece needs to be made, or a small number of custom pieces need to be made.  The main disadvantage of using the overlay technique is that results can be inconsistent and one often needs to be at least somewhat “crafty” in order to be able to create professional looking pieces.

You can choose one of our laminating carbon fiber kits here  

 

Vacuum Bagging

Vacuum bagging is by far the most complex and expensive of all the methods, but usually results in the best final product.  The first step in vacuum bagging is to create a perfectly designed reverse mold of the final piece which you intend to make.  This mold can be made out of virtually any material, anything from silicon rubber molds to composite.  The second step involves laying your carbon fiber or other composite fabric(s) into your newly created mold, then applying either a release fabric for fairly flat products or a peel-ply for complex and curvy applications.  A release fabric is typically a plain weave nylon treated fabric that allow resin to pass through it, but the release fabric itself will not stick to the composite product.  A peel-ply is a stretchable rubber like membrane with small holes space throughout the membrane, allowing resin to be sucked through those holes.  Behind the peel-ply or release fabric you place a breather fabric.  The purpose of the breather fabric is to absorb the excess epoxy being pulled through the release fabric or peel-ply.  Behind the breather fabric is the vacuum bag itself.  This acts as a permanent barrier and helps create an airtight chamber so that the resin can be sucked away from the product.  Sealing the bag to the mold requires a special sticky tape.  This tape provide an airtight seal between the mold and the vacuum bag itself.  This tape is commonly referred to as sealant tape.

 

If producing large numbers of identical units, such as if you intend to go into production making one specific piece or product, vacuum bagging is an ideal method.  The disadvantages of using a vacuum bagging method are that it often requires a great deal of effort to create a perfect mold; it also often requires adjusting of the vacuum bag line(s) and possibly adjusting the individual suction of each line.  Because of this, it is common to go through at least three to five pieces until you perfect your product and are ready to go into production.  Therefore this method is generally not recommended if your intention is to create only a few specific pieces.

 

13

Jan

Carbon fiber Monster X 6×6 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Monster X

The carbon fiber Monster X Concept is an X-Class with three axles and six wheels. The design study is planned for production and features bodywork made entirely out of carbon fiber. The body is far from stock, as it features widebody wheel arches, several rear fins and spoilers, sport bars, more aggressive front and rear bumpers, and a hood scoop. The truck bed has been theoretically sprayed with a “protective structural paint” for duty.

Whereas most 6×6 pickups we’ve seen, such as the G-Class or the Silverado, are intended for off-roading adventures, the carbon fiber Monster X is actually lowered. Carlex sees this pickup getting a job as a safety car on a racetrack, albeit a far cry from the traditional safety car. The front and rear winches are for pulling wrecked racers rather than stuck mud crawlers. It also features carbon ceramic brakes as part of the track spec.

05

Sep

Carbon Fiber. Where it all started

The First Carbon Fibers

The synthetic carbon industry had its official beginning in 1886 with the creation of the National Carbon Company. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, the company would eventually merge with Union Carbide in 1917 to form Union Carbide & Carbon Corp., which changed its name to Union Carbide Corp. in 1957. The carbon products division of Union Carbide Corp. became the independent UCAR Carbon Company in 1995, and was renamed GrafTech International Holdings in 2002.

Electricity was mostly a lab curiosity until the late 1800s, when carbon arc lamps began lighting the streets of major U.S. cities. The lamps were composed of two carbon rods connected to a current source and separated by a short distance. A blazing hot path of charged particles—the “arc”—formed between the two rods, giving off an intense light. National Carbon got its start by producing carbon electrodes for streetlamps in downtown Cleveland.

In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the first incandescent light bulb, which uses electricity to heat a thin strip of material, called a filament, until it glows. He may also have created the first commercial carbon fiber. To make his early filaments, Edison formed cotton threads or bamboo slivers into the proper size and shape and then baked them at high temperatures. Cotton and bamboo consist mostly of cellulose, a natural linear polymer made of repeating units of glucose. When heated, the filament was “carbonized,” becoming a true carbon copy of the starting material—an all-carbon fiber with the same exact shape. Tungsten wire soon displaced these carbon filaments, but they were still used on U.S. Navy ships as late as 1960 because they withstood ship vibrations better than tungsten.

Near the end of World War II, Union Carbide began investigating a replacement for tungsten wire in vacuum tubes by carbonizing rayon, another cellulose-based polymer (like cotton) that became popular in clothing. The end of the war brought an end to the government’s funding for this project, but carbon fibers were still raising interest in the commercial sector. Barnebey-Cheney Company, in 1957, briefly manufactured carbon fiber mats and tows (rope-like threads without the twists) from rayon and cotton. These were used as high temperature insulation and filters for corrosive compounds. A year later, Union Carbide developed a carbonized rayon cloth and submitted it to the U.S. Air Force as a replacement for fiberglass in rocket nozzle exit cones and re-entry heat shields.

While finding a certain degree of success in their respective niches, all of these early carbon fiber materials had poor mechanical properties, making them unsuitable for structural use. It took a chance discovery to set the age of high performance carbon fibers in motion.

Early Applications of Carbon Fibers

As early as 1959 scientists at Parma had taken a step toward producing high performance carbon fibers. Curry Ford and Charles Mitchell patented a process for making fibers and cloths by heat-treating rayon to high temperatures, up to 3,000 °C. They had produced the strongest commercial carbon fibers to date, which led to the entry of carbon fibers into the “advanced composites” industry in 1963.

Composites are reinforced materials consisting of more than one component. The industry had been dominated by fiberglass and boron fibers, which were extremely popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Boron fibers, which contained a tungsten core, were especially strong and stiff, but they were also expensive and heavy. Carbon fibers were much lighter, so the appearance of relatively affordable carbon composites was a welcome development, and they found widespread use in gaskets and packaging materials.

While the tensile strength of these materials was increasing, all commercial carbon fibers to this point were still of relatively low modulus. The first truly high modulus commercial carbon fibers were invented in 1964, when Bacon and Wesley Schalamon made fibers from rayon using a new “hot-stretching” process. They stretched the carbon yarn at high temperatures (more than 2800° C), orienting the graphite layers to lie nearly parallel with the fiber axis. The key was to stretch the fiber during heat up, rather than after it had already reached high temperature. The process resulted in a ten-fold increase in Young’s modulus—a major step on the way to duplicating the properties of Bacon’s graphite whiskers.

Union Carbide developed a series of high modulus yarns based on the hot-stretching process, beginning in late 1965 with “Thornel 25.” The trade name was derived from Thor, the Norse god for strength, and the Young’s modulus of the fibers—25 million pounds per square inch (psi),  to about 172 GPa. The Thornel line continued with increasingly higher levelswhich is equivalent of modulus for more than ten years.

The U.S. Air Force Materials Laboratory supported much of Union Carbide’s research into rayon-based fibers during this period in an attempt to develop a new generation of stiff, high strength composites for rocket nozzles, missile nose tips and aircraft structures. The fibers were also used in spacecraft heat shields to reinforce phenolic resin—plastics that solidify upon heating and cannot be re-melted. As a missile or rocket returns to the atmosphere, the phenolic resin decomposes slowly while absorbing the heat energy, allowing it to survive the trip through the atmosphere without destroying itself. Carbon fibers kept the phenolic resins intact and they have been an important ingredient in aerospace materials ever since.

Polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based Carbon Fibers

While researchers in the United States were reveling in rayon, scientists overseas were busy creating their own carbon fiber industries based on polyacrylonitrile, or PAN, which had been passed over by U.S. producers after unsuccessful attempts at making high modulus fibers.

A quiet study by Japanese researchers in 1961—largely unknown to Western scientists—demonstrated high strength and high modulus fibers from PAN precursors. Akio Shindo of the Government Industrial Research Institute in Osaka, Japan, made fibers in the lab with a modulus of more than 140 GPa, about three times that of rayon-based fibers at the time. Shindo’s process was quickly taken up by other Japanese researchers, leading to pilot-scale production in 1964. In that same year, just a few months before Bacon and Schalamon debuted their hot-stretching method, William Watt of the Royal Aircraft Establishment in England invented a still higher-modulus fiber from PAN. The British fibers were rapidly put into commercial production.

The secret behind these developments was better precursors. In both Japan and England, researchers had access to pure PAN, with a polymeric backbone that provided an excellent yield after processing. The continuous string of carbon and nitrogen atoms led to highly oriented graphitic-like layers, eliminating the need for hot stretching. Chemical manufacturers in the United States, however, generally inserted other compounds in the polymer backbone that could account for up to 20 percent of the product, making them totally unsuitable for carbonizing.

The Japanese eventually took the lead in manufacturing PAN-based carbon fibers, effectively beating the British at their own game. Japan’s Toray Industries developed a precursor that was far superior to anything seen before, and in 1970 they signed a joint technology agreement with Union Carbide, bringing the United States back to the forefront in carbon fiber manufacturing.

PAN-based fibers eventually supplanted most rayon-based fibers, and they still dominate the world market. In addition to high modulus fibers, British researchers in the mid-1960s also developed a low modulus fiber from PAN that had extremely high tensile strength. This product became widely popular in sporting goods such as golf clubs, tennis rackets, fishing rods and skis; it is also extensively used for military and commercial aircraft.

Carbon Fibers Today

All commercial carbon fibers produced today are based on rayon, PAN or pitch. Rayon-based fibers were the first in commercial production in 1959, and they led the way to the earliest applications, which were primarily military. PAN-based fibers have replaced rayon-based fibers in most applications, because they are superior in several respects, notably in tensile strength. Fibers from PAN fueled the explosive growth of the carbon fiber industry since 1970, and they are now used in a wide array of applications such as aircraft brakes, space structures, military and commercial planes, lithium batteries, sporting goods and structural reinforcement in construction materials. In the late 1970s, Union Carbide formed a separate division as its primary carbon fiber producer; the business has since been sold to Amoco and then to Cytec, which is among a group of major carbon fiber manufacturers that spans the globe.

Pitch-based fibers are unique in their ability to achieve ultrahigh Young’s modulus and thermal conductivity and, therefore, have found an assured place in critical military and space applications. But their high cost has kept production to a minimum; only a few Japanese companies in addition to Cytec are currently making commercial mesophase fibers. A lower modulus, non-graphitized mesophase-pitch-based fiber, which is much lower in cost, is used extensively for aircraft brakes.

The cost of making carbon fibers has been reduced drastically in the last 20 years, and researchers are bringing that cost down every day. As they do, many of the applications once considered impossible will become reality. Carbon fibers are used sparingly in automotive applications, but someday entire body panels may be made from them. All high speed aircraft have carbon fiber composites in their brakes and other critical parts, and in many aircraft they are used as the primary structures and skins for entire planes. Carbon fibers could even be used to develop earthquake-proof buildings and bridges.

14

Aug

The Carbon Fiber Gladiator Suit

The Carbon Fiber Gladiator Suit That Takes a Real Beating

 

Unified Weapons Master, a start-up company based in Australia wants to bring Gladiators back (minus the killing bit at the end) and has spent the past couple of years creating a revolutionary, new combat sport that blends cutting-edge technology with traditional martial arts to allow real, weapons-based combat.To enable these modern gladiatorial scraps, the company has created the Lorica, a suit of armour made from carbon fiber, polycarbonate materials and elastomeric foam. These materials combine to create a suit that can stand up to a real beating, allowing the wearer to absorb the impact of a weapon and escape unscathed.

 

 

Underneath the armour is a range of vibration sensors and accelerometers that detect where the fighter lands a hit on the opponent and measures the severity of the blow. The team also plans to include technology to monitor biometric data including heart-rates, oxygen saturation levels and body temperature, giving useful insights into the health of the combatants. This data will then be fed back from the suit to a special ringside computer that monitors the fighters and keeps score.

According to By @compositestoday

Buy carbon fiber, fiberglass and other composites online in Australia at Beyond Materials™

29

Jul

Volvo carbon fiber panels

Volvo to replace body parts with energized carbon fiber panels

For automobile manufacturers, the electric elephant in the room continues to be bulky and weighty battery packs. This week, Volvo unveiled an innovative potential solution to the problem that it has been working on for the past three and a half years with other European partners; replace steel body panels with carbon fiber composite panels infused with nano-batteries and super capacitors.

The conductive material used around the vehicle to charge and store energy can be recharged via the vehicle’s regenerative braking system or via the grid. When the system and motor requires a charge, the energized panels behave like any traditional battery pack and discharge accordingly. According to Volvo, the material charges and stores faster than a typical system.

Using a Volvo S80 as a test platform, the team replaced the vehicle’s trunk lid and plenum cross member over the engine bay with the new material. Volvo claims the composite trunk lid, which is stronger than the outgoing steel component, could not only power the vehicle’s 12 volt system but the weight savings alone could increase an EV’s overall range and performance as a result.

Under the hood, Volvo wanted to show that the plenum replacement bar is not only capable of replacing a 12 volt system but is also 50 percent lighter than the standard steel cross-member and torsionally stronger. The very much revolutionary concept, chock full of cost and engineering challenges, presents an interesting solution that could not only reduce overall weight but increase charge capacity relative to a vehicle’s surface area.

Volvo says energized carbon fiber body panels are not only stronger and lighter but easily replace...

When it comes to weight savings, the battery pack in Tesla’s Model S for example, not only adds significant cost but also brings with it over 1,000 lb (453 kg), making the electric argument a difficult one for many. With Volvo’s concept, that huge chunk of weight would not only be lighter under this scenario, but would be spread out evenly over a vehicle’s body. In theory, vehicle handling and performance characteristics would thus improve as a result of this revised displacement idea.

But the idea of using body panels as battery packs does come with its share of particular concerns. Lamborghini, McLaren and Pagani charge a hyper-premium for their exotics as a result of extensive carbon fiber use, so for this idea to become reality and make it to mass production would require a significant reduction in the cost of carbon fiber.

Capacitor infused carbon fiber crossmember in place on Volvo S80 test vehicle

Then there’s the issue of broken panels or those damaged in an accident. In the event of an accident not only would body panels be extremely costly to replace but they could present unprecedented problems for emergency crews. Electrical surges coming from broken body panels could be potentially harmful were rescue persons unaware of the underlying electrical issues.

On a fossil fuel-powered note, cars using traditional 12 volt batteries, which weigh anywhere from 45 – 61 lb (20-28 kg), this technology could also prove beneficial by relocating that hefty chunk of lead from the nose of the car out across larger surface areas.

According to Volvo, weight savings of 15 percent or more could be achieved by replacing a vehicle’s traditional body and relevant electrical components with these new nano-infused carbon fiber panels. Volvo is also keen to point out the positive sustainability aspect that comes as a result of such weight reduction.

Source: Volvo

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