Spintech, a spinoff company founded in 2010 from Cornerstone Research Group, has recently announced that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is watching their company and its specialty “shape memory polymer” smart tooling solutions.
“Our technology will allow them to make composite parts that have complex geometries and/or or trapped geometry,” Craig Jennings, President of Spintech said.
And SpaceX is just the kind of manufacturer that could use lightweight composite parts for, say, a rocket ship’s body or landing gear.
Jennings described the smart tooling process this way: “Things that, basically, you can’t make with a metal tool and pull out of the part because it’s trapped or highly complex in shape. Our polymer tools allow us to form into those shapes and allow the customer to lay up on a rigid tool so he gets good compaction of his composite on layup.”
This allows manufacturers to create one-piece hollow parts such as airplane bodies, jet engine nacelles, rocket bodies, jet intakes, airplane horizontal/vertical stabilizer and wing parts that no longer need to be made as two separate parts and then joined together. This saves labor time and material costs.
In chocolate Easter Bunny terms, it would be like laying a blanket of chocolate over the shape of a bunny, then covering that with a clamshell bunny mold, then removing the inside bunny shape to create a hollow chocolate bunny. Except Spintech’s process can create composite parts that have the strength of steel with a fraction of the weight, and it’s reusable, but not edible.
Other manufacturers looking at Spintech’s process include jet engine, aircraft, UAV, and ordnance manufacturers. Jennings also added that sporting goods companies, particularly bicycle frame manufacturers, are also interested.