Manufacturing Process
Filament winding
Filament Winding
This process is primarily used for hollow, generally circular or oval sectioned components, such as pipes and tanks. Fibre tows are passed through a resin bath before being wound onto a mandrel in a variety of orientations, controlled by the fibre feeding mechanism, and rate of rotation of the mandrel.

While filament winding machine design varies with part geometry, the basic filament winding process concept is described in the following schematic.

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The fibres are impregnated with resin (by immersion, or by passing over a resin-wetted drum, or by injection into the die) before being led to a feed eye where a controlled band-width is set prior to positioning on the mandrel.

Fiber tension is critical to the operation of a filament winding machine. The fibers are supplied on creels and it is normal to have fiber tensioners (closed-loop controlled servo-driven "dancers") in the feed line. The tension required is dependent on the type of fibre, the part diameter and the winding pattern selected. The tension directly affects both fibre volume fraction and void content and, in turn, influences the strength and stiffness of the composite part.

Once the fiber package is positioned the resin is taken to full cure, often by heating in an oven. The final stage is mandrel removal to leave the desired hollow component. This may be achieved by hydraulic rams for extracting steel mandrels. For more complex structures, the mandrel may be a low melting point materials (eg metal alloy) or a water soluble salt (leachable plaster) which can be washed out or a collapsible rubber or a non re-useable foam. In some cases, where a liner is required for minimal gas permeability the liner may also function as the mandrel and hence not need to be removed.

Filament winding has been combined with other fiber application methods such as hand layup, pultrusion, and braiding. Classic filament winding involves a spindle with a carriage or carriages to apply hoop and helical fibers. Compaction is through fiber tension. Resin content is now primarily metered. The machines are generally all computer controlled with up to six axes independently monitored. The additional axis comes into play at the fiber turn-arounds. The extra head axis allows for better placement of the band, and more uniform band width.

Materials Options:
Resins: Any, e.g. epoxy, polyester, vinylester, phenolic.
Fibers: Glass, aramid, carbon and boron fibers . The fibers are used straight from a creel and not woven or stitched into a fabric form.
Cores: Any, although components are usually single skin.

Typical Applications:
Chemical storage tanks and pipelines, gas cylinders, rocket motors, launch tubes, pressure vessels, drive shafts and fishing rods and missile cases



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Reference: netcomposites and John Summerscales



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