Piaggio Fast Forward and the Gita

Sometimes we know what we’re shaping – a boat deck, a big surfboard, a massive wind turbine blade – and sometimes we don’t. Normally, when that is the case, it’s because of confidentiality issues. But when Piaggio Fast Forward contacted us about an autonomous “intelligent and nimble cargo vehicle“, it was just because no one knew what this thing was.

Piaggio Fast Forward is an arm of the Piaggio Group, Europe’s largest manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles. They set up shop just outside of Boston, and got to work on ” pioneering the intelligent movement of people and goods at just the right scale: larger than aerial drones but smaller than cars and trucks.” The team came to Symmetrix with some videos, a few ideas, and some drawings. They asked for a direct to mold with limited use to use for their prototyping. Over the next few months, with the support of our friends at Leading Edge Composites, Symmetrix provided the tools needed for Piaggio to create their self-driving suitcase prototype.

The buzz has been exciting around this innovative technology – from Wired to The Economist to the Wall Street Journal. Future plans include commercial production and a new, slightly larger sibling for the Gita – the Kilo. We wish them the best of luck as they work towards their autonomous cargo vehicle.


Catch the Wave – The Biggest Board

The World’s Largest Surfboard is also our Most Documented Project. Management took a trip out west in January for the premier of this documentary. Reports are that “I’ve never looked better or sounded more intelligent.” If that’s not a reason to keep an eye out for the release, I don’t know what is.


These are a few of our favorite things: Marine

Setting up shop in Bristol, Rhode Island, you’re going to see a marine project or two come through your doors. This year, Symmetrix Composite Tooling had a few fantastic marine projects from a few of our favorite customers ranging in size, part numbers, and product types.

You may remember our last job with Hinckely, the Bermuda 50. Symmetrix built the pattern and the mold for the revamped Hinckley classic and have enjoyed watching the first few boats sailing in New England. This project, while smaller, is all Hinckley. The Talaria 34R, “a riveting yacht that heralds a return to the golden age of Hinckley runabouts”,  promises the beauty of a classic Hinckley with all the bells and whistles of modern boat construction. Symmetrix was able to take the CAD drawings from the Hinckley engineers and the direction from project mangers, and turn it into mold we think is just as beautiful as the final construction.

Hinckley asked Symmetrix to build both the patterns and the FRP molds for their jetboat. Over the second half of the year, we have been working hand in hand with Hinckley’s project managers as the design evolved from a computer file through to the bright orange deck mold you see below. While visions of sugar plums dance in our heads, work still continues on a few small parts to be delivered at the beginning of the New Year.

Enjoy a few pictures of the deck mold as you sip your egg nog. Merry Christmas! Don’t forget to follow Symmetrix alumni Comanche and Rambler as they sail in what promises to be a hair raising Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

These are a few of our favorite things: Alternative Energy

Today I was hoping to introduce our favorite aerospace jobs. Unfortunately, the sales department brought attention to various NDAs signed, so we will have to skip aerospace. Just know that there were some pretty interesting projects. Instead, we’ll jump into alternative energy.

Over the years, we have helped our clients harness the power of tidal and wind energy. This year, it was all about wind power – with our customer TPI, we shaped over 450 square meters worth of wind turbine surfaces. TPI and Symmetrix have a long history of shaping large, detailed surfaces, while researching various materials and their uses. In 2015, we did two turbine projects – a 56.9m long blade (which will be showcased next week), and an 11.65m turbine. Tiny in comparison.

The 11.65m turbine went through the same rigorous design, build, and inspection process as its bigger brothers. Symmetrix chose materials based on heat and pressure tolerances from the client, performed vacuum testing, and shipped it in anticipation of being tens of molds and hundreds of wind turbines.

These are a few of our favorite things: Art & Architecture

Here at Symmetrix Composite Tooling, there always seems to be a job that has to get out around the end of the year, so we’ll be plugging away through these two holiday weeks, putting Santa’s elves to shame to get this wind turbine blade out the door. It is also an appropriate time to stop and reflect on what has been one heck of a year.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be reintroducing you to a few of our favorite jobs, breaking them up by industry and product type. This week, we’ll focus by industry, sharing our favorite jobs from Art & Architecture, Transportation, Alternative Energy, and Marine. Next week, we’ll showcase our favorite Foam, Pattern, DTM, and FRP jobs.

We’ll start with industries: Art & Architecture. Artists and architects are pushing limits, utilizing the latest in design software and parametric modeling tooling, perfectly lending themselves to digital fabrication in composites. We had fun working on one really big FRP architectural job, but we’ll save that for next week. What we’ll touch on now are our favorite small architectural projects.

Kreysler Curbside 2 Kreysler Curbside 1First, a fun job for a West Coast friend. Kreysler & Associates quickly needed a design cut in foam: their client, Curbside had ordered a kiosk. Kreysler was coming off of the construction of the San Francisco MOMA siding, so this job was small by both Symmetrix and Kreysler standards. What it did for both of us was, one, highlight our abilities to operate quickly with very tight specifications and time limitations, and two, give us the opportunity to turn a friend and sometimes-client into a partner. This job was quoted, constructed, cut, and out the door within two weeks.

desk 1desk 2Another long-time friend and sporadic customer we were able to work with in 2015 was Custom Composite Technologies out of Maine. CCT has a wonderful portfolio that spans many industries and product types. While we often go head-to-head on jobs, it’s always great to share our knowledge and work together. This job was another foam-only with a quick schedule – a custom reception desk. The design was curvy and fun to cut, done in no time at all, and off to CCT for them to glass and paint.

Tomorrow: Transportation.

Class 40 Longbow

Class 40 Longbow

Congratulations to Carbon Ocean Yachts with the successful build and launch of the Owen Clarke deign Class 40 ‘Longbow’. Launched at the Newport Shipyard just a few weeks ago and currently undergoing sea trials, Symmetrix Composite Tooling was tapped to machine the complex deck surface here at our Bristol RI location.

The deck surface was split on centerline and machined in our large format CNC as a limited production DTM or direct to mold machined surface. Learn more about the Class 40 ‘Longbow’ here .

“The guys at Carbon Ocean Yachts had Longbow on exhibit at the Newport Boat Show last weekend and I got the tour from managing director Britt Colombo. I was impressed on a couple of levels; how futuristic and functional the deck layout is, and the close attention to detail and finish craftsmanship. Complements to Carbon Ocean!”

John Barnitt
President, Symmetrix Composite Tooling