Automotive, Marine, and Aerospace
“We cut the resin impregnated carbon fiber and lay this up on the pattern to produce a mold about 6mm thick,” explained Composites Manager, Ian Handscombe. “Making the mold from carbon fiber ensures that it expands and contracts at the same rate as the part, guaranteeing accuracy. Components are also made this way.”
Selecting A Nesting Tool
SigmaNEST reduced material used in a sample nest from six sheets to four, significantly better than others being evaluated. “Carbon fiber is costly so avoiding waste is a priority,” Handscombe added. “Initial waste rates were around 40%. SigmaNEST has halved these figures, enabling us to save around £70,000 per year.”
Responsiveness was also crucial. Previously, laminators were waiting around for molds and carbon fiber kits. With SigmaNEST, carbon fiber kits are planned and cut one and a half days in advance allowing work to begin immediately, greatly improving productivity.
New Business & Expansion
The new process has created extra capacity allowing Prodrive to win additional business. Handscombe says: “SigmaNEST paid for itself in three months and is hugely important to our company. It is the main driver for our improvement program and complete review of methods. We could not have achieved the increase in turnover without it.”
Anticipating expansion into other markets (aerospace, defense, telecommunications, marine) where the flexibility, low weight, and strength of carbon fiber is important – Prodrive is working toward 24 hour operation with SigmaNEST taking on an expanded role.