For composite parts at Bold, we can usually get on with our work using one of two different inputs from our customers. On one hand, a type of input could be a concept or a set of specifications detailing what the part’s final objective and purpose is. For example, a set of load cases and the volume it can occupy. On the other hand, another kind of input could be given to us in the form of a fully defined geometry for the component. Whenever needed, Bold knows just when to step in and ask the right questions to gather all the details for a clear idea of what the project is like. We have our client’s best interest at heart and will pitch any other ideas we think will boost the performance and lifespan of the part.
For a component that needs to be modelled from scratch, we would look at manufacturing options and materials and compare these options to the design drivers (such as cost, weight, environmental requirements, to name a few). There is a wide range to choose from, all presenting varying challenges to finally select the absolute best materials and processes for the most optimized version of the part. When the sky is the limit, we rely on our accumulated experience to deliver the ideal solution to achieve the function set out before us.
Composite component design
This process might take anything from a couple of hours to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the problem and the stakeholders involved. In the case of F1, it takes time and quite a lot of deliberation to meet both the wants and needs of the engineers in the pit and businessmen behind the scenes. On one hand, the engineers may strongly urge for revamping a part that may be costly. This does not necessarily pose a financial obstacle for the larger F1 teams. However, for applications outside F1 or high-end motorsport, we understand the top design driver might be cost. There are processes and materials that provide a reasonable level of performance at low cost.
When the specifications and accepted minimums and maximums have been set in stone, we will move to detail design in CAD and structural studies with FEA. These simulation tools that Bold is too familiar with is what enable us to finally reach a decision on materials and generate drawings. Detail design of ply orientations for laminates can be simulated even before making any physical parts. We were recently able to reduce the mass of an e-scooter deck design from 1,6 kg to 0,9 kg in under a week. That also allows to test different materials with different cost levels so managers can decide with a broad range of data.
Tooling for composite components
The next step is to design the tooling. Afterall, our clients value holding the reigns of the manufacturing of their parts. Again, a wide range of different options that are an integral part of the component’s design. On average, the tooling oft defines some of the component features for the when it comes to composites. In Bold’s line of work, the most common tooling options are epoxy board patterns with CFRP molds or metallic tooling. We can also make additive manufacturing tooling or flexible tooling for certain features to simplify the mold, or to achieve complex and advanced geometries.
Tooling design might take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few weeks tops. Of course, timing can be expedited should there be an urgency to have the part. This is something Bold can easily negotiate at the start of the project with our client. The same time may need to be invested in the part, but Bold has no qualms with dedicating the manpower and weekends it takes to bring the project to light.
Manufacturing composite parts
For manufacturing, we have an expansive portfolio of suppliers with different skill sets and locations. Bold is quite familiar with them and can select the most appropriate supplier on a case-by-case basis. It is a combination of cost, skills set, experience and capacity. The complexity of some components means there will be a development period to iron out any issues with the design that are unknown at the conceptual phase. Should there be a development phase, Bold will supervise the process first hand to direct the changes required.
When it comes to testing, Bold is self-sufficient. Our in-house testing keeps this end of the process swift and reliable. Although many of our designs undergo simulation testing, there are some components that require physical testing, depending on certain specifications. Some physical aspects that are scrutinized in our testing include the structure (the test can be destructive or non-destructive), electric (dielectric properties, continuity, etc), leak proofing, environmental, dimensional and the like.
Bold takes on most of these kinds of testing in-house to validate the component directly by us before it has our stamp of approval to go on to the customer.
Finally, the part has been materialized and should now be in the hands of its rightful owner. Bold has a dependable shipping partner that adeptly advises us on the logistics for each delivery to anywhere across the globe. In the EU, for example, shipments are made in the afternoon for next-morning delivery at a very reasonable cost.