Sunday, 27 April 2014

Forlano Design commission

Our work continued with Forlano Design with the fabrication of a private furniture commission, exhibited at the 'From the Atelier' exhibition at FORM Gallery in Perth city.
Built of solid American Black Walnut timber the fabrication incorporated 3 axis milling machining, laser etching and traditional hand-crafted timber making techniques.

Carbon fibre cosmetic finish

Our long time customer TMT Australia recently selected carbon fibre as a preferred finish for their operator consoles for the Typhoon Heavy Work Class Deep Sea ROV.
Working from supplied CAD models we commissioned a composite mould to be made with a high gloss finish. After the mould was made we set about creating the consoles to come out of the mould with an A class finish.
After 12 months of making these parts we are happy to supply the consoles to TMT with a surface finish which meets the expectations a million dollar ROV unit.

Carbon Innegra surfski

In early 2013 Spirit entered into the design and build of a new surf ski The 'FURY'.
Spirit wanted the 'Fury' to continue on from the success of the PRS in the roto-moulded surf ski market. With some fore thought we suggested the composite moulds which are used to make the alloy roto-moulds could be 'recycled' to create an advanced composite surf ski for the Avon Descent.

We were excited to be involved in the process and received line drawings to create a 3D model which was used to make the master pattern. Our input in the composite part to make the alloy mould ensured we could also use the composite 'part' as a mould for composite surf ski production.

Building a surf ski for the Avon descent is not trivial, over the last few years the water level has been dropping and the boats and kayaks are subjected to more rocks than usual and in some
years its even become a running event with water too low to pass through.

Considering the chances of rock impact to be high and the need for a light weight craft for carrying - we specified a 50/50 carbon fibre and Innegra hybrid cloth. The first ski was made with epoxy resin and infused to reduce the chance of pinholes (a cause for leaking) and minimise weight.
The final hull weight was 11 kg and the ski performed well, sustaining only one puncture on the keel on the first day in trying conditions Alan Albert finished top 10 on the first day and 13th across the line on the second day. The fury was also the first surf ski across the line beating multiple kayaks.

Based on the performance in this event, Spirit committed to the purchase of a 100m roll of pre impregnated carbon/innegra fabric with a modified toughened epoxy resin system. This years ski will be lighter and tougher than last years... bring it on.

3 ages of foot pedals

For over 5 years we have been manufacturing foot pedals for Spirit Kayaks. In that that time we have redesigned the foot pedals 3 times. The first version was an up grade from the plastic foot pedals with carbon fibre composite foot plate, pedals and stainless steel hinges - we made over 200 of this variety.

After comments and questions about reducing weight we re designed the foot pedals and dispensed with the stainless steel hinges and replaced them with a nylon rod and more ergonomic shapes - we made over 300 of this variety.

Last year we made a prototype carbon fibre / Innegra kayak for the 2013 Avon Descent, but we needed a new foot pedal to go into this beauty - so we prototyped the new design. A foot pedal which does not even have a hinge! - the latest design uses particular laminates to allow for flex in a specific region. This idea is not new in fact the very first design (prior to the stainless steel hinges) tried a flex hinge approach but failed, with time and experience we have solved the issues which troubled us earlier and the new foot pedals are performing well. - we hope to make 400 of these ones

V8 Supercars

We recently became a supplier of air box components for the Walkinshaw Racing V8 Supercar team.
Walkinshaw are responsible for running the Holden Racing Team and Supercheap Auto Racing Team, 4 cars in total.
The air box design is a complicated 5 part carbon fibre assembly with vary particular shapes and sizes to fit under the bonnet work around engine components and optimise the airflow into the manifold.

To manufacture the 5 components to exact specifications required 28 different matched mould components all assembling for component manufacture, and then disassembling for part removal. Although challenging we embrace the concept and are a proud supplier to Walkinshaw Racing.
(image supplied by HRT)

14 foot skiff hydrofoil mould

Following on from the three hulls we made, we were asked to CAD model and manufacture a rudder hydrofoil mould for a 14 foot skiff - the result is below...

alloy surfboard hydrofoil

Due to our experience in CNC machining alloy foil prototypes for sailing boats, Andy Dovell from Dovell Naval Architects asked us to CNC machine a hydrofoil and vertical foil for a 'tow in surfboard' to be featured in the upcoming Storm Surfers film, featuring Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll, first reports are that the format is working...

Art & Furniture project revisited

In 2011, Forlano Design commissioned us to make another side table from Walnut, after the Art Gallery of Western Australia acquired the original  for their permanent collection. The art piece increased in size to 500mm high (previously 450mm) and revolved around incorporation of digital manufacture, whereas the previous piece was 100% hand made from 3D and 2D drawings.

3D CAD models allowed our plastic printers to make 1/3 of the unit from which a silicone mould was made. From the mould three polyurethane parts were poured into the mould, demoulded and assembled into the complete piece.

Using 0.7mm walnut veneer our cutter plotter accurately cut each facet face from the generated CAD model. The cut pieces of veneer were adhesively bonded to the polyurethane component and then hand finished with a satin finish lacquer.
The implementation of digital design and build reduced the manufacture time from 30 hours for the first piece to 12 hours for the second.

UAV Contract

Composite Components signs contract to develop a UAV dedicated to support of naval training.
The UAV will utilise exiting infrastructure and make high use of COTS (commercial off the shelf) components & equipment to reduce costs. The R & D program is expected to last 12 months with a move into production units to follow.

Perth International Airport Terminal 1

Composite Components jointly won the contract with Forlano Design in February 2014, for the design, manufacture and installation of an acoustic artwork at Perth International Airport Terminal 1. Located within the international arrivals baggage reclaim hall (which incidentally will be doubled in size), it will be wall-mounted extending across an area of 20m x 6m. The artwork will be entirely three dimensionally modelled, incorporating 5 axis CNC machining technology and laser manufacturing techniques to create a complex and intricate design. Like our other work with Forlano Design, we will be experimenting with timber whilst utilising the latest digital fabrication techniques.

Here, at the Perth Airport's website you can see the Perth Airport Transformation. We're excited to be involved. By the end of this year it should be installed- look out for it next time you are travelling to Perth from overseas.

wave power turbine components

A contract to develop composite blades for 1 MW power turbine saw us collaborate with By Design Group for laminate design and dynamic load testing of carbon fibre turbine blades.
The original design incorporated a stainless steel shank to hold the blade in place on the hub, but after initial testing the weight proved problematic and we were commissioned to design a composite shank (or root) with stainless steel threaded rings and smooth bearing faces to reduce weight.

Utilising the existing tooling and developing a technique of false tools, removable sections and bladder moulding allowed us to laminate and bond the 'trapped shape' stainless steel components in one cure operation. This reduced the weight from 1.8 kg per blade to 1kg making an improvement to loading of related turbine components.

Forty blades were ordered and final weights of the blades varied by no more than 10gm.
The blades are destined for the 1 MW rated turbine developed by Oceanlinx based in Sydney.
Completion of the blades saw us also win the contract to build the nosecone for the turbine.

Friday, 25 April 2014

fins and foils

Since we have the cutter plotter, accurately cutting laminate for solid fins has become fast & simple. Approaching Chris Lockwood fin designer and windsurfing speed sailor for collaborative work was a good fit. We made several fins for Chris which he is now testing.

carbon fibre skiff hulls

Approached by a local boat builder to make three 14' skiff hulls was like a trip back in time when I started out working as a boat builder. Using pre-preg carbon fibre over a male mould, we laid up the hulls and deck components. Vacuum bagged, oven-cured and pre-preg carbon fibre proved a good combination as the hulls come out with a good weight and excellent structural rigidity. Following on from the 14' skiffs, two Cherub hulls were also produced in the same materials and method.

3D printing

Last year we purchased our first 3D printer (the 88th machine of the production line). As an early adopter, we had some issues but the 3D printing community is collaborative one and prior to the purchase of the second machine we felt confident in the technology at an 'industrial' scale.
The machines work tirelessly for us and they are not often idle. To date the biggest print we have completed is a 1.5m long asymmetric turbine blade that will be used to create a high temperature mould from which we will make the carbon fibre composite blades.
With experimentation we have found ways to make patterns, high temperature moulds and prototype components using these machines. They have become an invaluable tool and I see us purchasing more and larger machines in the future.

optical sensor device

A smaller, but nonetheless complicated part are the composite domes we make for Ocular Robotics these domes are small (50mm diameter) but the weight, cosmetics and quality have to be 100%.
Initially we made the domes using oven-cured pre-impregnated laminates but due to cosmetic 'browning' issues we invented a new method utilising plastic printed components, trapped rubber intensifiers and an injection procedure to produce a composite RTM component with an 'A' class finish. These small components took all of our skill to reproduce in production quantities with consistent quality and weight.

ASCALON sculpture

The Ascalon sculpture in the forecourt of St Georges Cathedral in the centre of Perth is a proud statement of composite engineering design and ingenuity. We were approached by a colleague to be involved in the manufacture of the 12m high billow component for the sculpture after previous attempts at manufacture had failed in the preliminary stages.
Working from a complex 3D CAD model, the build method and laminate design was completed in collaboration with a local boat builder who has a CNC milling machine large enough to carve the polystyrene moulds from which the billow is laminated.
The final product was attached to a polished stainless steel pole with hidden fixings and installed in 2011. This project illustrates the possibilities of manufacturing in composites and we are proud to have been involved in the manufacture of a construction as complex as this. The work was also a finalist in the International Composites JEC Awards.

New CNC cutter/plotter

In mid 2012, we designed and built a 6m x 2m CNC cutter/plotter for precise, fast and efficient cutting of our materials. This machine allows us to cut hundreds of shapes with minimal waste on the 6m bed in minutes and was completed just in time for a large aerospace contract.
Although we designed that machine to cut and mark (pen, permanent marker or pencil) primarily pre impregnated composite laminates, we have the ability to cut structural foam cores, wood veneer and intend to fit an ultrasonic cutter later this year. There are also thoughts to incorporate a plastic printer extruder head to compliment our two 'smaller' plastic printers and give us the ability to print large objects to compliment our pattern and mould manufacturing.

UAV Engine Cowling

In 2012, Composite Components secured a contract to manufacture over a hundred of UAV engine cowlings for Orbital Corporation. The composite cowlings were engineered for a maritime environment with consideration for rough handling. The production rate was over twenty assemblies per week.
We were fortunate enough to work with another WA based company, leading the way in advanced engine technology. See:  'Orbital Lands UAV Engine in


Mine site lifting beam

In 2012 we were commissioned by a specialist mining equipment company to manufacture brackets and lifting beams dedicated to a particular BHP mine site conveyor belt. The requirement of the lifting beam was working load of 2 tons and failure at 6 tons. The 6 kg composite lifting beam and carbon fibre brackets (pictured) were tested and approved for use. 


Perth Transport Authority pods

Completed in 2010, Composite Components manufactured the corner mouldings for the Information pods at the Murray Street, Perth City underground rail station. See link below for pictures and information on the completed installation.

Iredale Pedersen Hook (architects) website
Australian Design Review article