Composite Product Development Services
"Convert rough ideas into test-worthy composite prototypes ... and in turn successful composite product launches."
CSS' Composite Product Development & Process Development services often focus on carbon fiber (CFRP) and fiberglass or glass fiber (GFRP) reinforced polymer composite applications with complex shapes and challenging fiber architecture:
- Intricate or Irregular Geometries
- Non-Uniform Hollow Cavities
- Radical Cross Section Changes
- Closed Profiles (e.g., Hoops, Rings)
- Nested Structures
- Inserts or Co-Molded Components
CSS conducts material form, material layup or placement, product design, tooling, and manufacturing trade studies to identify solution(s) which meet the Client's objectives.   The best solutions are often a compromise that balances composite product performance, product quality (durability), and product manufacturing cost drivers.
CSS utilizes Computer Aided Design (CAD) and basic Finite Element Analyses (FEA) tools to predict carbon fiber and fiberglass product performance and to optimize the FRP composite design.   Composite prototype fabrication trials conducted by CSS, by the Client, or through a partnership with a prospective composite manufacturer are then used to validate the proposed manufacturing approach and optimize the composite process parameters.   Prototype fabrication trials also yield FRP composite components for laboratory and field testing, a critical step before composite production implementation.
CSS maintains a strategic affiliation with the University of Delaware's internationally recognized Center for Composite Materials (CCM) to give our Clients access to state-of-the-art composite laboratories and prototype fabrication facilities as well as over 100 CCM staff and research professionals, a literal FRP composite think tank for especially challenging composite projects.
CSS also offers composite engineering services to support the execution of composite product qualification programs and product redesign efforts associated with field return or warranty problem resolutions.
CSS was tasked to design and develop a lightweight FRP composite spool for use in a performance sporting goods application.   The composite part had to perform like the incumbent machined aluminum spool, mate with existing hardware, and visually communicate a high end product story.
Radical shape changes and high out of plane load conditions made for a challenging composite product development effort.   CSS conducted several design and manufacturing trade studies before settling on a viable solution; a pultruded hollow composite core bonded inside a bladder molded composite shell.
Braided biaxial sleeving provided continuous reinforcement from the first flange rim down and through the small diameter hub and back up to the opposite flange rim.   A strategically reinforced sandwich construction in each flange provided the required out of plane stiffness and strength.
Prototypes were successfully fabricated and testing to demonstrate concept feasibility.   CSS' composite spool design was found to be 30-40% lighter than its aluminum counterpart.   Meanwhile the carbon fiber outer braid layer provided the desired visual story.
CSS was given the challenge to develop a lightweight and visually appealing FRP composite design and economical manufacturing solution for a highly loaded lightweight 12 ft tall curved davit with a 6 ft reach.   In addition to a reasonably compact shipment size and weight mandate the davit had to be easily assembled by 2 or fewer people without the use of a lift or crane.
Finite Element Analyses (FEA) coupled and manufacturing trade studies yielded a three (3) section assembly as the most efficient solution; two hollow tapered straight sections bridged by a tapered curved center section via rectangular ferrule and socket joints.
Conventional 2D fiberglass fabric reinforcements were used to build up straight section preforms while fiberglass braided sleeves were used as the primary reinforcement in the curved center section preform. The sections were infused using Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) in OML clamshell tooling to produce a smooth, well defined exterior surface.   Tooling inserts were employed to define critical IML surfaces features such as the joint sockets.
Less than 100 lbs of GFRP composite material was used to fabricate the lightweight, easy to handle davit sections.   Field assembly consisted of bolting the bottom section to a steel base followed by assembling the remaining two sections while standing on a ladder.
The lightweight GFRP composite davit assembly passed both static and dynamic safe operating load tests with tip deflections well within design limits and exceeded 3 times the safe operating load.