DEC 2018


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DECEMBER 2018 30 CompositesWorld PLANT TOUR Equipment on the main shop oor naturally is organized by process type. To our right, past the autoclaves and freezers, several sta members are using the two Wabash (Wabash, IN, US) presses to compression-mold carbon -ber/epoxy brackets designed to hold video monitors on airplane seat backs. Clauson points out, "Presses are very robust pieces of equipment. As long as you clean up the control system, they continue to work well." ‰e press workload is nearly full, he reports, even though they came online a mere six months ago. Beyond the presses, two McClean Anderson (Scho-eld, WI, US) WLH-'-'-"M -lament winders are fabricating -lter housings for ultra-clean water systems. CR winds the main section of these housings, then winds a ange area. ‰e outside diameter and ange area are then machined to speci-cation and coated. To our left stand the two •-axis machining centers, as well as several routers and turning centers, a gantry mill and a grinder. CR added its second Haas •-axis machining center this year. ‰e company machines its own products, completing post-cure trimming and drilling, for example, and also gets machining business from other companies. "Traditional metal machine shops are scared of machining composites," Clauson has found. ‰is reluctance creates additional opportunities for CR to -ll its machining capacity, and the company is getting more and more inquiries about machining. A high-end machining center may be purchased in the near future. ‰e two C.R. Onsrud (Troutman, NC, US) machining centers feature a •-by-'—-ft bed, which enables CR to machine fairly good sized parts and tooling. ‰e company uses an outside supplier for steel, Invar or other heavy metal tooling, but it creates all other tooling in house, including plugs, masters and molds, made from tooling materials ranging from lighter metals like aluminum to RenShape (Huntsman Advanced Materials, ‰e Woodlands, TX, US) "blue blocks" and honeycomb core. "We do a lot of work with blue block tooling," Clauson reports. "It's inexpensive and really good for prototyping and short runs." He notes that customers sometimes think they need metal tooling, but "if they only want -ve or '— parts and they may change the design, blue block is faster and cheaper, and we can deliver parts pretty quickly." Near the machining centers, several aramid parts, designed to house electronics and serve as radomes on military vehicles, are queued for trimming. Nearby, a glass-enclosed ošce space houses computers used primarily for CNC coding. On a desktop in this area rests an interesting prototype that represents another burgeoning application area: a carbon -ber/epoxy leg for a drone. Composite Resources engineers designed this one-piece leg based on the drone maker's initial design, which was comprised of 'œ pieces. Part consolidation is often a more signi-cant factor in drone applications than lightweighting, Clauson notes, as is the vibrational damping that composites oer. Stock in trade ‰e two large workrooms that we enter next, located at the back of the U-shaped building's near wing, are dedicated to processes that support steady production work the company performs for its customers. "We have a good mix of legacy versus new projects Stock in trade Along with new design-build projects, Composite Resources continues to service build-to-print work, such as roll-wrapping of tubes for aircraft seating applications. CR's work with some customers dates back to the company's founding. Source | CW Photo | Karen Mason company if a second shift is added. ‰is option is under consider- ation to better leverage CR capital equipment. We pass from the hand layup area through a manual trim area with downdraft tables, and on to the main shop oor, which spans the back side of the building's main wing. Racecar philosophy Moving through this main shop area, it is easy to surmise that preparedness is a core value of Composite Resources, as we come across two autoclaves (one from ASC Process Systems, Valencia, CA, US; and the other from American Autoclave Co., Jasper, GA, US), two Kolpak (Parsons, TN, US) freezers (a walk-in, 5 ft by 12 ft, and a drive-in, 25 ft by 25 ft), and two Global Finishing Solutions (Osseo, WI, US) Concept paint booths (one enclosed and one open-faced). Equipment for a mix of manufacturing processes — also often found in pairs — occupies the rest of the main oor. ‰ough the company welcomes work for both pieces of equipment in each pair, Clauson explains that the idea is to ensure they make delivery dates. In fact, at the company-wide luncheons, the owners have admonished the team, "In the entire history of racing, a start ag has never been delayed because somebody wasn't ready." ‰e paired equipment ensures readiness for each "race" the shop oor undertakes. CR's largest autoclave is 'œ ft long — long enough to accommo- date large components. ‰e company is considering additional autoclaves as part of its capital plan, anticipating ongoing auto- clave work. "Even though there's a lot of work being done with out-of-autoclave processes, there's still a lot of autoclave work out there," Clauson believes. "And because of quali-ed material systems, I think there will be for many years." Read this article online |

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