Stronger joints, more efficient material use and reduced machining and labour time. These major product and processing benefits explain why CompoTech is applying huge effort to develop its latest integrated loop technology (ILT). From bike frames to light-weight equipment for law enforcement. The technology and potential uses are explained.
CompoTech has developed a continuous axial fibre integrated loop technology (ILT) process which can overcome joint design issues. It offers an automated manufacturing system for rapid and cost effective production of lighter and stronger FRP epoxy composite tubular structural parts with fully integrated joints between sub-assembly components. It enables fastening without the need to machine holes or excessive material and labour used for laminating.
Mountain bike frame developement
As an eye catching demonstration of the technology, CompoTech has developed the CDuro mountain bike frame. The aim is to validate the product performance and commercial benefits of the loop technology in a demanding environment as well as to promote the application in this industry.
Compo Tech cofounder and R & D director Dr. Ondřej Uher has a passion for ‘enduro’ mountain biking. “Mountain biking is very popular in the area, being so close to the beautiful, but challenging, Šumava mountain range, which is also the venue in the Czech Republic where European Enduro Series (EES) national race events are held.” He explains. He aims to use design engineering and the company’s automated process technology to enable better composite frames to be built more cost effectively.
Whilst improving the structural integrity of the tubular frame joints the frame is also quicker and easier to manufacture. Taking average timing the front triangle frame is put together and bonded in roughly 1/2 the time compared to the more traditional butt joint with hand lamination. It also removes quality issues caused by human error on the process.
To gather mechanical properties performance data beyond the R & D laboratory, the CompoTech Enduro X development bike frame has been fitted with strain gauge sensors to gathering data while being ridden.
The Cduro, CompoTech’s ILT jointed bike is currently undergoing field trials, being ridden by CompoTech’s engineer, Tomas Ponzil. Using the demanding Šumava mountain Enduro X race trails, which include jumps, rocky areas and steep sections which twist and turn through the trees, pushing both bike and rider to the limits. “The results from the prototype bike frame measurement data, together with our in-house testing and the outcome of the CTU joint performance research project, will all be used to help validate our loop technology”, commented Ponížil. The objective is to provide tangible data for designers as to the suitability of ILT, not just for bike frames but also for other demanding applications where structural joints between sub assembly parts is a design challenge.
Composite Tactical Ladder
The integrated loop technology is ideal for producing ‘dog bone’ design structures. Such as for the a modular ladder with an ILT joint at both ends. The epoxy carbon fibre tactical ladder produced by Compo Tech with ILT rung joints is a modular design. Essential specification features for the military ladder included needing to be as light as possible, very high strength, transportable in short sections and easy to assemble and dismantle in the field.
In updating the production process for a three rung ladder section, Compotech was able to eliminate the need for a number of parts, halving the assembly components needed and saved both cost and weight. Critically, the automated ITL process reduced the total production time by 39% to only 8 hours by cutting out processes such as turning, secondary milling and third assembly operation. Additionally it provides a much stronger joint.
Dog bone design ILT test coupons were tested during the development phase in conjunction with Czech technical University (CTU). They were produced by Compo Tech as part of the new product development process.
The ILT tactical ladder, an update from an already successful product, is in production with customers across law enforcement and military services. The bike frame is planned a small scale production of the CDuro one-off frame. However, the main goal is to demonstrate the technology and offer our services to other end producers for either to produce the frame to spec or offer our technology and support for a customer’s own production.