For me, one of the more interesting parts of our industry has been the race to fully integrate composites into the automotive industry. Not so much the flashy clear finished carbon fiber parts showing up on performance cars, but run-of-the-mill production vehicles.
Radiator supports aren’t sexy, but can be made lighter. Lighter parts make more fuel efficient cars. But, there’s a problem: the automotive industry has a hundred years of metal forming experience, and it’s very good at it. Stamped metal parts cost mere dollars each, and are hammered out at several per minute. Composites are….slow.
To change this, we need to apply the same automated techniques used for metal. Fully hands-free production. It’s led to some really great ideas. Automated cutting tables, robots picking and placing fabrics, automatic binder application, pre-forming tools, composites cured in dies and presses more reminiscent of injection molding.
We’ve been working with a company to apply a 90 second urethane resin that we sell to carbon fabric and extract a toughened, trimmed, finished part every three minutes. Even in development the process is awesome to watch. Even cooler is that the whole industry is just at the beginning. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Actually that’s not quite right. I can’t wait to help with what comes next.
If you have an idea and you just know it can change the industry, give us a call. We can’t wait to help.