Cost Savings in the Composites Industry – The Introduction of Pneumatic Yarn Splicing
GTW Developments, trading as Airbond, manufactures yarn splicers - tools for knotless joining of fibers. The technique has existed since the 1970s, first commercialized in the UK [Ref 1], originally for synthetic fibers such as nylon. Splicers are now ubiquitous in traditional textiles, offering improvements in quality and process efficiency.For decades, there has been a need for splicers for the emerging composites business. In this high-cost industry, the efficiency savings offered by splicing promise to be great. However, there have always been a number of problems specific to the application. The brittleness of fibers like carbon demands gentle treatment, but the increasing counts of yarns used in composites necessitate a degree of violence. Reconciling these conflicting requirements proved insoluble, thwarting the efforts of splicer manufacturers. Airbond conducted a research program which yielded a new insight into the mechanics of splicing, and a PhD for our young researcher. The work enabled Airbond to develop novel products which meet the needs of the market - splicing very heavy yarns in carbon and glass which are strong in tension, but brittle in bending. Elements of Airbond’s research, and its practical outcomes, are described in this paper. The paper concludes by discussing problems encountered in the commercialization of the new splicing systems. Increasingly diverse applications in the industry present a moving target, making it necessary for us to move swiftly to develop a number of solutions for different applications. Finally, the paper solicits guidance from industry professionals.
Authors: Graham Waters, and Kevin Ahlstrom
Conference: SAMPE Seattle 2017