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Allred & Associates
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Carbon Fiber Angles Offer Weight, Strength Advantages in Ship, Aircraft Design
ELBRIDGE, N.Y.—The ability to reduce weight without sacrificing the strength and rigidity of traditional aluminum or steel structures is a prime reason why carbon fiber is being used in many applications. Although carbon fiber adds to the upfront cost of these applications, the long term cost savings outweigh the initial investment, according to Allred & Associates, a composites engineering and manufacturing firm that manufactures DragonPlate™ engineered carbon fiber composites.
The company recently released a low-cost EconomyPlate brand and a stiffer, stronger, prepreg angle. Although low cost, the EconomyPlate is “still an excellent option for many applications,” the company said in a press release. Its main benefit is the low price point, and the benefit of the prepreg angle is its higher stiffness and strength, according to the manufacturer.
One instance of how carbon fiber translates to lower operating costs and greater payload capacity is by reducing weight on aircraft and ships. On large ships, for example, heavy aluminum cabinets are still the state of the art in electronics mounting. However, they are very heavy, weighing up to 900 pounds or more. Multiply this by tens or even hundreds of systems on a single ship, and the potential for weight reduction is tremendous.
DragonPlate carbon fiber angles from Allred & Associates enabled the design and construction of a strong, rigid, and weight-saving cabinet for a U.S. Navy ship. Allred partnered with Frontier Electronic Systems of Stillwater, Okla., to develop and test a carbon fiber shock isolation cabinet. The carbon fiber angles and other carbon fiber structural components provided the means to withstand shock loads in excess of 100g from explosions. No other company has been able to develop a carbon fiber composite cabinet that can meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Navy, Allred reported.
The switch from aluminum to carbon fiber reduced the final weight of the cabinet from 900 pounds to only 350 pounds, yet the cabinet performed exceptionally well in shock testing, according to Allred. Due to its increased natural frequency, the cabinet performed better than the original metal cabinet, even at only about one-third the weight, the company reported.
Using the same design methodology, carbon fiber angles, tubes, and other components can be used across many disciplines, including portable electronics frames, automation robotics, and even X-ray imaging. The benefits in these areas are enormous, saving companies millions of dollars, according to Allred.
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