By Rachael Geerts – GBI Composite Materials Engineer
Have you ever wondered how laminate thickness can be determined without breaking out the epoxy and reinforcement fabric? The answer is simple—use math. While some of you may have just lost interest because you think math is too difficult, I can assure you that this math requires nothing more than some basic multiplication, addition, and division. Let’s get to it.
By Mark Morrison – Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation
On the surface, the span looks like any of the thousands of small, narrow two-lane bridges across America. This new, high-tech bridge in Morgan County, Tennessee uses G/flex® Epoxy in a fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite material deck embedded with fiber optic sensors. It replaced a damaged, decades-old concrete crossing which, like thousands of low-volume bridges across the nation, was structurally deficient and outdated.
It all started when I got a new 360-degree camera for my racecar. Mounted on the dash, it captures a really cool perspective that allows viewers to see forward, watch cars as I pass them, and to see what I’m doing (check it out at youtube.com/user/jeffmcaffer). Unfortunately, the dash produced considerable glare on the windshield. As you can see in the photo, it also had various holes and divots that were not useful in a racecar such as a coin tray, air conditioning vents, and extra switch panels. I wanted to fill those in. But how? Continue reading →
Many products, especially boats, are now being manufactured with a process called Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM), also frequently referred to as infusion. The main topics of this article are: what infusion is, how to repair an infused part with vacuum bagging vs. infusion, and the results of our study comparing a vacuum-bagged repaired laminate and an infused repaired laminate. Continue reading →
USA Bobsled/Skeleton’s Crew Chief, Richard Laubenstein, constantly works toward one main goal: to design and maintain the fastest, most aerodynamic bobsleds for Team USA’s athletes. Bobsleds are high-performance machines powered by people. Athletes push the sled in a sprinting start to gain speed, then jump in to continue down the icy track at speeds exceeding 95 mph. Continue reading →
There is only one solution that comes from the ache of seeing iceboats ripping around on Mona Lake all your life: give in and buy one. If the thrill doesn’t quite meet expectations, build one that will be faster. Pat Filius has lived 20 years on a now-flooded celery flat fed by Black Creek, the main tributary of Mona Lake in Norton, Michigan. In 2014 he bought his first iceboat for $400. Sailing it just once was enough to convince him that he wanted a faster boat. Continue reading →
Looking for an entry-level composite project? One that needs a minimum amount of materials and construction space, costs less than a boat, but still lets you travel on water? If you live in snow country, why not build a pair of composite snowshoes?
These snowshoes are made from a rigid foam core between two layers of carbon-fiber cloth, edged with 1″ Kevlar tape. A carbon-fiber wrapped wood spar runs across each snowshoe under the ball of your foot. This provides a solid mounting point for a couple of stainless steel eye-bolts to attach a simple toe-and-heel strap for a binding. Fiberglass tape reinforces the top and bottom edges, and the upper surface of the snowshoes where your winter boots contact them.
Here is an inside snapshot of how the composites materials world is growing at my alma mater, Winona State University. Located in Winona, Minnesota, this university has the only accredited four-year undergraduate program for composite materials engineering in the US. Through this program, students learn the fundamentals of engineering while investigating different materials. This program challenges students both academically and creatively. Students are encouraged to ask questions and strive for a deeper understanding of why things are done the way they are done. From this, they can explore how things can be improved.
Russell Brown’s G-32 catamaran on the cover of Epoxyworks 46, Spring 2018
The work of the Gougeon brothers has been like a guiding light to me starting when I was a young teenager. It wasn’t just the methods and skills they developed that inspired me (and led to my career in boatbuilding), it was the “outside the box” thinking about boat design they employed. While Meade Gougeon led the effort to develop and teach epoxy skills and building methods, it was his brother Jan who had the courage to design, build, develop, and race boats that were very unusual and often counter-intuitive, yet very successful. Jan’s G-32 catamaran is an example of his genius. Continue reading →
I first got the idea for this project driving through a neighborhood in Iowa City where my wife and I live and work. “You have to see this awesome mailbox,” I said to my wife as we drove through a neighborhood one day this past fall. There it was, a dolphin mailbox. Not just a mailbox with dolphins painted on it, but an honest to nature fiberglass dolphin with fins holding a mailbox beneath its head. Continue reading →