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A Swedish supplier of payload adapters and separation systems for commercial launch vehicles has trialled Water Jet Sweden’s cutting technology in the processing of thick carbon fibre materials.
Payload adapter and separation systems ensure that satellite and rocket remain securely attached to one another during the journey into space, and then deliver the valuable payloads into orbit with precision. The payload adapter is currently made out of aluminium and carbon fibre composite. The two parts are bolted together into one cone, several meters in diameter. However, calculations have shown that all-carbon payload adapter systems would reduce weight and improve stiffness significantly, which could increase rocket efficiency and investment payback. Instead of bolting the two payload adapter pieces together, finger joints could be used. This technique enables a large contact surface, a strong joint and is suitable when joining similar materials.
Since neither milling nor sawing was applicable for processing this kind of design, Water Jet Sweden was contacted to conduct live waterjet test cutting.
Complex carbon fibre geometries are generally difficult to process efficiently without using waterjet cutting technology, according to Tony Ryd, CTO at Water Jet Sweden. The test was performed by cutting 47 mm long finger joints in a cone shaped 12 mm thick carbon fibre material with a circumference of 7.2 m. The incision needed a tolerance of 0.1 mm around the circle, to be able to safely be glued together. An advanced FiveX machine system from Water Jet Sweden was chosen for the test.
“Our FiveX machine system is unique since it has a combination of extreme precision and a full 3D abrasive cutting ability,” says Ryd. “It is specially designed for this kind of advanced application, cutting with a repetition accuracy of +/- 0.025 mm.”
Image provided by Water Jet Sweden
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