When I think of pultrusion, I think of a continuous process to produce lineal shapes, such as I-beams or legs for ladders. I think of it as a reverse extrusion process because reinforced fibers are pulled through a resin and into a heated die, where the resin is polymerized. An interesting new German technology called Radius Pultrusion allows the continuous production of curved reinforced profiles from endless fibers and webbing. It was just announced that the process, developed by the Thomas Group of Bremervörde, Germany, has been nominated for the prestigious Hermes technology Award, which will be given at the Hannover Messe, which will be held later this month in Germany.The innovation enables production of endless circles and arches of any radius, for example springs. When using bidirectional reinforcement, the strict orientation of the fibers can only be provided on the level that is vertical to the deflection level. For all other areas, formable webbings, or nettings are required. Thomas says it can be used for structural components of cars, trains or aircraft. Thread rods and nuts are another possibility.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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