Posted on 12/1/2012
Source: Wind Systems Magazine

Collier Research Corporation’s HyperSizer software optimizes both composite design and manufacturability.

COMPOSITES CAN BE A DESIGNER’S DREAM — or a manufacturer’s nightmare. If you’re designing a one of-a-kind Formula One race car, where performance is paramount and cost and manufacturability are of less concern, you can cut weight, modify, and adapt in creative ways. But if you’re designing a wind blade for competitive energy markets, over-customizing can result in a product that is extremely complex and difficult to produce. For a cost-sensitive product like a wind blade, you need to strike a design balance that accounts for both the subtleties of the physics and the realities of the factory floor. As a 35-to 40-meter 1.5MW wind blade spins, it is subjected to a complicated collection of static and dynamic forces that vary along the blade from supporting root to tip. To account for these diverse loads, the several-hundred-ply-thick composite stack beneath the surface also varies — in material selection, number of plies, and overall thickness. The actual construction for each blade part depends on the specific structural characteristics required to ensure adequate strength and deliver optimal performance. Read more…