History: One of our Worldwide supplier to the Aerospace and Automotive industry. They manufacture compressed air treatment units, breathing air systems, water chillers and gas generator systems.
Brief: One of the main products they produce at their facility, is aluminium fuel rod casings. Avon Group were asked to help with the design and development of a polyester protective mesh cover to wrap over aluminium tubes for anti-rattle protection. Avon Group were benchmarked against other suppliers and with the benefit of being local, and having past experience working with contacts within our client’s group, were successful in winning the project.
Technological Uncertainties: How to assemble the product. Will the product fit the tube?
The product is made up of six identical pieces of polyester mesh. Due to the end use being within the aerospace sector, two methods of fixing were required.
1. Assembly Methods: Three methods of fixing the components together were identified early on . These included welding, stitching and adhesive. We discarded stitching after exploring thread types and strengths, whilst adhesive adherence proved to be a real challenge with consistency and adherence. We therefore pursued ultra-sonic welding which gave us security for repeatability, ease of use and process speeds. Numerous trials were conducted over several weeks to fully understand weld pressures to ensure the integrity of material was not harmed during our processing.
2. Product Fit: Although the customer provided a basic drawing for the finished component, we discovered that part of the assembly was too large for the aluminium tube. When we reduced the size, the component was too hard for assembly. To overcome this problem, we changed the shape of the six items to include a slight angle that would overcome the assembly issue, but would still give a good fit to the aluminium tube. This required a number of different cutting tools to be produced and visits to the customer to allow them to carry out practical assembly trials.
Resource: With the design featuring an open mesh, we had to invest in a solution to ultra-sonically weld each individual edge together to form an excellent seal. We also took an additional counter-measure by stitching below the weld line to give the extra strength required for the nature of the component. This was well received by our customer.