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Filament Winding Enables New Frontiers for Rocketry

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Earlier this year, when SpaceX successfully launched their Falcon Heavy rocket, it made headlines across the world. Including the Tesla Roadster, the rocket carried an enormous payload, second only to the Saturn V rocket, and did it with a significant emphasis on composite materials.[1] It’s incredible to realize the precise engineering and design that went into making the mission a success. Seemingly minor flaws in the carbon fiber elements of the rocket, or even improper tools used during construction, could have resulted in catastrophe.

A New Use for a Tried and True Practice

Filament winding is certainly not a new process for manufacturing composite structures, but utilizing a filament winder that gives you complete control is imperative—particularly when construction processes must take into account the extreme conditions and incredible forces rockets need to withstand. When designing and manufacturing a product to meet exact end-goal specifications, you need to trust the tools you’re using.

This is especially true with filament winding. It is a process in which long, continuous strands of composite material are wound around a supporting structure to give it a desired shape. The support, called a mandrel, is then either removed, leaving a hollow but strong and durable structure, or left inside to prevent leakages from whatever may be contained within the structure.[2] While the process is frequently used for everyday objects like street lamps and golf club shafts, the capabilities of carbon fiber composites have broadened the possibilities of filament winding in creating rocket casings and fuselages that meet the exacting needs of aerospace engineers.

Composites Cut Costs for Aerospace Companies 

Take the recent SpaceX success, for example. By forgoing traditional materials and turning to carbon fiber, the Falcon Heavy rocket was able to carry 119 thousand pounds, more than twice that of its closest competitor, for a third of the cost.[3] Composites give companies flexibility in creating materials that are specific to their project. With the variety of missile systems out there, this flexibility is crucial—the composites necessary for a launch into space are vastly different than those needed for defensive missiles or even long-range deterrent systems.[4] As carbon fiber costs drop, accessibility to more companies rises, allowing for the construction of composite designs that can fit a wide range of engineering needs. But employing the right tools to utilize those composites is vital.

MVP Leads the Way for Filament Winding 

When seeking out a filament winder to manufacture their parts, time and time again, companies turn to Magnum Venus Products (MVP). With more than four decades of experience designing and producing turnkey winding solutions, MVP is the industry leader when it comes to high production filament winding machines. Not only do they allow for customizations like dual side production and fully integrated pumping systems, but MVP’s filament winders can be manufactured to the specific level of control and number of axes needed for each unique project.

A top manufacturer of composite application equipment, MVP has provided solutions to meet the most demanding requirements and challenging of environments for a wide array of industries. Not only can they provide a filament winding system that fits the exact specifications needed for rocketry, but they offer a full line of superior equipment, including prep machines, extractors, mandrels and more. To learn more about MVP’s state-of-the-art, customizable filament winders, or to see their huge inventory of cutting-edge products, visit mvpind.com today!

[1] http://compositesmanufacturingmagazine.com/2018/02/spacex-falcon-heavy-carbon-fiber-composites/

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/025405849501554X

[3] http://compositesmanufacturingmagazine.com/2018/02/spacex-falcon-heavy-carbon-fiber-composites/

[4] https://www.compositesworld.com/articles/composites-target-tactical-missiles

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