Carbon Fiber Composites Inc.
Carbon Fiber Composites is a West Virginia company that credits its partnership with the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) as the key to several recent successes that are helping ensure the company's growth and expansion. Based in Ona, W.Va., Carbon Fiber Composites produces high-quality composite airframe parts.
Using mil-spec carbon fiber fabrics and aerospace-quality epoxy resin, the company manufactures composite airframe parts in production-quality molds to exacting standards. Carbon Fiber Composites uses Double-bag Vacuum Resin Infusion as its method of choice in manufacturing aerospace-grade composite structures. This technique has proven very cost-effective for the company's clients.
The conversion of Carbon Fiber Composites’ manufacturing process to Resin Infusion has allowed the company to secure new opportunities with a number of other companies, such as Richard Hogan Designs, Ion Aircraft and Samson Motorworks. Each new client has made commitments to have the company manufacture component-parts on its behalf. These new opportunities include:
- securing a contract to manufacture all composite airframe components for all complete kit aircraft sold by Ion Aircraft (www.ionaircraft.com), as well as doing tooling and parts production for other airframe parts;
- working with Richard Hogan Designs to help produce prototype aircraft under development with Carbon Fiber Composites, including all tooling and parts production, and
- partnering with Samson Motorworks (www.samsonmotorworks.com/switchblade), which has filed a Letter Of Intent to have the West Virginia manufacturer produce multiple sets of production-quality tooling for their composite design called Switchblade.
Carbon Fiber Composites also is in discussions with an international aircraft company that is looking for a North American partner and manufacturer for its sport aircraft design.
The company is using RCBI's advanced manufacturing technologies to complete several new projects. It has used RCBI's Faro arm and digital laser scanner to create 3-D solid modeling for Hogan designs. This 3-D SolidWorks data is being used to create full-scale foam plugs on the 5-axis CNC Router at the RCBI Bridgeport facility. Carbon Fiber Composites recently machined the inboard wing sections and the fuselage plugs. The data will also be used to fabricate cradles to hold the plugs, using RCBI's CNC water jet cutter. The plan is to complete a full-scale flying prototype aircraft by the end of 2012. All internal structure (i.e.: bulkheads, shear webs, ribs and spars) are molded composite structures and will be developed and machined at RCBI.
Additional projects with similar requirements will occur later this year for other customers (Ion Aircraft and Samson Motorworks). Brian Alley, President of Carbon Fiber Composites, said the opportunity to use RCBI's technology and training is making his company more competitive and successful than it otherwise would have been.
Alley said that RCBI's partnership has been invaluable and "has made all of the difference in the world" to the growth of his company.
"The individuals I have worked with at RCBI have been incredibly supportive of what we are doing and are very professional," Alley said. "All of the discussions I have had with other companies to bring business to West Virginia have been successful only because I have been able to list RCBI as an expansion of my capabilities. Without RCBI I wouldn't have any of these contracts."