On behalf of an International Client, we have recently completed the design and engineering for a high-speed industrial machine manufactured from carbon fibre composite materials. The machine has now been installed and successfully tested at one of their manufacturing facilities based in Germany.
The machines operational requirements necessitated the development of advanced composite structures, able to withstand high dynamic loads and temperatures.
The project commenced when the Client asked us to carry out a feasibility study, following this a design concept was created to illustrate the performance benefits composite materials could provide when compared with more traditional materials. The benefits were such that the project then progressed through to structural analysis and detail design.
The Client's manufacturing process requires the rapid conversion of a raw material, to achieve this component parts of the machine measuring approximately 1 metre x 2.5 metres will reciprocate at a speed of 6 cycles per second, sustaining a load of 4G.
The machine has been designed to operate continuously for up to twelve months at a time and it is envisaged that following an annual routine inspection the machine will then return to continuous operation.
One of the many interesting challenges presented by this project was a requirement for the machine to be able to withstand intermittent temperatures of up to 400º Centigrade. To achieve this we have developed an innovative and commercially viable heat shield system, which will protect the composite structures from these very high temperatures.
The novel heat shield system is lightweight, and it is believed to be a unique application of this technology. The machine operates in a harsh manufacturing environment and we have proven that the innovative application of composite materials technology is an appropriate solution.
The performance of the machine was clearly demonstrated at their plant and ultimately may be able to exceed the operational parameters by a significant margin. As the machine converts a raw material into an industrial product which is manufactured and distributed from plants worldwide, the positive impact this will have on increased efficiencies for the Client was clearly demonstrated.
With this project we have been able to develop an industrial machine, which utilises advanced composite materials extensively, and one that will be able to operate in a harsh manufacturing environment.
To achieve the projects objectives we have had to push forward the accepted boundaries of composites technology, we believe this to be the first industrial machine to be constructed from advanced composite materials which will be able to sustain intermittent temperatures of up to 400º Centigrade.