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Filament winding: the key behind pressure vessels performances

Winding, reeling or coiling filaments in cylindrical shapes is an effective fabrication technique to create complex structures made from composite materials. The process is as brilliant as it is simple: the main operation consists in winding tightened filaments or stripes (previously impregnated in thermosetting resin) around a core cylindrical mold or a chuck. Rotation control is the key: the chuck usually turns on itself as the lorry carrying the fibers moves horizontally, setting materials around the mold in the requested pattern.

The most common and effective system currently uses carbon or glass fibers receiving a synthetic resin coating while winding. Once the rotating chuck is completely covered and the desired thickness has been reached, the part is transferred into special ovens in order to solidify the resin (curing phase). Mastering control parameters in this step of production is essential when it comes to guarantee the highest quality standards in all built parts, according to their future applications. When the resin is finally cured and steady, withdrawal of the chuck concludes the process. The result is a hollow part perfectly shaped, designed for a specific use and fabricated following customer’s exact requirements. Resulting parts are generally cylindrical products such as pipes, chemical and fuel storage tanks, stacks, motor cases, masts, and of course pressure vessels.

Apart from being a highly customizable production method, filament winding processes are totally adapted to automation, mostly due to the capacity of controlling filament’s tension and stress. Fibers applied at higher tension result in final products with increased rigidity and strength, while lower tension allows greater flexibility. The orientation of these ‘magic’ filaments must be also carefully controlled so different layers can overlap in the right way, that means in the opposite direction from previous coats. The angle set in the application of lower layers will determine the properties of the finished part. Once again, various aspects can influence the final result. A higher angle will offer more resistance to compression and a pattern with lower angles (known as closed system) will provide an amplified resistance to traction. Structures requiring high physic properties and a considerable degree of resistance are made out of epoxy resin, while cheaper polyester resin works just fine for most extended applications. This huge range of materials embraces a long spectrum of high-tech qualities that fit seamlessly with essential requirements in high pressure vessel manufacturing.

Over 40 years of experience in composite filament winding confirm Protec Arisawa’s expertise in the organization and production of sophisticated technical solutions for many industrial sectors. Pressure vessels production techniques have no secret for the world leader in high-pressure vessels for desalination processes. Working on these complex materials and techniques raises practical challenges that are often seen as innovating opportunities by Protec’s engineers: all new designs and any change in design follow the testing path required by ASME. With leading industrial facilities in USA and Europe, Protec Arisawa is now pursuing efforts to expand the company’s field of action to more mainstream markets and applications. Fiber reeling production allows adaptability to practically any area.