Outside of an advanced Quality Assurance team, metrology – the scientific study of measurement – is not a well-known concept. However, the confirmation that a project is both on track and accurate is essential to the manufacturing process.
Symmetrix Composite Tooling has added high accuracy metrology expertise to its expanding toolbox. For Symmetrix, metrology means verifying that our craftsmen using our large format machining center produce shapes to the accuracy our clients demand. Fractions of millimeter tolerances over tens of meters are the norm and require exacting levels of precision in both manufacture and measurement. With our FARO® laser tracker and Verisurf software, we measure and compare tooling surfaces to the 3D CAD model geometry with sub-millimeter accuracy without limitation due to size for near real-time confirmation that a project is on track.
By coupling today’s laser technology with a modern scientific approach, metrology expertise is a powerful tool with a variety of applications. SYMX can apply this technology and use our laser tracking to ‘Clock in’ and accurately assemble large composite tooling or complex pattern geometries. Even more, Symmetrix can now offer ‘On-Site’ mold verification as a value-added service. Clients can now confidently know their production process is free of errors letting them focus on design and innovation instead of manufacturing complications.
Please join us in welcoming Andrew McDonald to the Symmetrix team.
“Andy brings extensive knowledge and experience to Symmetrix, from closed molding-resin infusion to light-RTM tooling, production as well as prototype tooling. His years of composite tool-making across a variety of industries such as wind, transportation, medical, and marine give him a detailed understanding and confidence that only comes from years of ‘hands-on’ involvement. We are thrilled to have him on the team,” says John Barnitt, President of Symmetrix Composite Tooling. “Andy will have a key management role here at Symmetrix.”
In his new role, Andy brings two decades of experience in large scale composite mold making, Light RTM and heated epoxy tooling work to help expand Symmetrix’s composite tool making capabilities. As the former Tooling Manager of TPI Composites Inc., he is listed as inventor for multiple patents in heated tooling technology.
“Having worked as the guy on the shop floor with a table of offsets, to the guy in the office with a customer, I have the comprehensive understanding of composite products and whole manufacturing process,” says Andy. “Symmetrix’s proven track record of delivering complex composite solutions and verifying large scale geometries to submillimeter accuracy is pretty easy for me to get enthusiastic about.”
Andy grew up in California and studied Manufacturing Engineering and Plastics at Western Washington University before moving to the “right” coast. He is an automotive enthusiast and a Formula 1 racing fanatic. He lives with his family in Rhode Island.
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.
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.
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.
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.