Composite resin is stiff enough for wind-tunnel tests

Thanks to its high stiffness and good surface finish, DSM Somos' ProtoTool 20L is being used by Provel as a rapid prototyping material for creating models of the M-346 advanced fighter trainer for wind-tunnel testing.

Using heavily-filled composite stereolithography resins from DSM Somos, Italian rapid prototyping service bureau Provel is opening up new frontiers in wind-tunnel test applications with the development of a scaled prototype of the new M-346 fighter trainer aircraft for Alenia Aermacchi.

The M-346 is the only new-generation advanced fighter trainer in the world. With a variety of unconventional attributes, advanced technologies and avionics, the M346 delivers superior performance over existing advanced trainers. However, essential to the development process was the creation of an accurate, scaled prototype for effective wind-tunnel testing.

Based on the inherent complexity of the prototype design, Provel chose to produce the model using the DSM Somos composite stereolithography resin ProtoTool 20L, rather than the popular powder sintering technique.

Ceramic-filled resin

Coming from the Somos family of ProtoComposites materials, ProtoTool 20L is a ceramic-filled resin that is capable of producing highly stiff and accurate parts. With a modulus of 10,000MPa, a linear shrinkage of <0.025mm, and a heat deflection temperature (HDT) of 279degC, ProtoTool and the newly commercialised NanoTool have become popular resin choices in wind-tunnel applications for industries including aerospace, automotive and motorsports.

Francesco Giorgio Buson, Managing Director of Provel, comments: "Somos ProtoComposites materials have the mechanical properties – particularly the dimensional and structural stability – that are essential for these kinds of aerodynamic tests."

The dimensions required for the scaled model of the M-346 were 1000 x 1000 x 200mm. Because some parts were much larger than stereolithography equipment will permit, the model was constructed in several pieces and then assembled. The complex stages of creating the partition lines and reassembling the parts were a delicate and crucial aspect of the project, helped by the accuracy of the Somos composite resin, as well as an adhesive that was specially adapted for the material to ensure an even and high-quality surface finish.

Savings in time and cost

Perhaps the most important advantage provided by the ProtoComposites material during development of the M-346 model was the overall time and cost savings achieved.

Buson says: "The ProtoTool prototype was ready for aerodynamic tests in less than half the time that would have been required using a traditional technique. The entire project could be completed in just over two weeks: one week for production of the models and another for the finish, assembly and dimensional check."

As a result, the final cost analysis on producing the M-346 model with ProtoTool demonstrated a cost savings of more than 30 per cent. Buson adds: "Producing a model of this type using conventional technology would have taken several months for its design and development, costing several hundred thousand euros."

As a result of the shorter implementation time, as well as the functional and aesthetic results produced by the Somos material, Alenia Aermacchi now considers ProtoTool 20L stereolithography resin a standard for creating wind tunnel test parts for their aircraft designs.

About Provel

Provel and its subsidiaries are a leading Italian group engaged in the construction of rapid prototypes and tools for the automotive industry, and have been a strong presence in all the industrial and design sectors for over twenty years.

DSM Somos

1122 St. Charles Street
IL 60120

+1 847 697 0400

More applications
2 days ago
maxon is giving away a Swiss Army Knife every day in December
maxon has launched its 2023 Advent Calendar, giving away a classic Victorinox Swiss Army Knife every day in December until Christmas Eve. To enter maxon’s Advent Calendar, visit the maxon prize draw 2023 and click on the door for the corresponding day.
2 days ago
Yaskawa commits to UK with state-of-the-art facility
Yaskawa – a global technology supplier in segments drives, motion controls and robotics – is opening a new, state-of-the-art UK headquarters and manufacturing facility in Sunderland.
4 days ago
NSK bearings help pet food plant raise OEE
When a major UK pet food producer wanted better machine utilisation with the aim of raising its OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) by 3 points, it asked experts at bearing specialist NSK if they could evaluate processes and systems to help with this improvement goal.
5 days ago
Beckhoff UK and HepcoMotion’s mechatronics showcase takes centre stage
Automation technology specialist Beckhoff UK, in collaboration with leading manufacturer of linear motion systems, HepcoMotion, hosted a mechatronics showcase at MK7, the home of Oracle Red Bull Racing in Milton Keynes, with several innovations from both companies on display, as well as a brand-new product reveal – the GFX-r guidance system.
5 days ago
PPMA re-brand puts automation at the heart of UK manufacturing
The PPMA Group of Associations has re-branded and has changed its name to AutomateUK to better represent the needs of its membership and their end user customers in the ever-changing manufacturing landscape.
1 day ago
steute Technologies restructures its business fields
steute Technologies, an international technology company offering switches, intelligent sensors and wireless systems, has announced a comprehensive restructuring of its business fields.
1 day ago
Showcasing design, production and process engineering in the food and drink sect
Taking place on 1 May 2024 at the National Motorcycle Museum, Food Manufacturing Live serves the design, production, process and maintenance engineering teams across the UK food and drink manufacturing sector.
2 days ago
Understanding safety and security for the protection of human and machine
How do you master employee protection, liability protection, productivity and data protection? How do you increase your quality and simultaneously prevent manipulation on your machines? How do you protect your data and employees in equal measure? Pilz is hosting a free webinar on 15 December, 9:30-10:30 am, to address just these questions.
2 days ago
Schaffner opens new regional channels for its range of EMC solutions
EMC solutions provider, Schaffner, announces new partnerships with three distributors to further broaden the reach and scope of its product range and support services across Europe. The new agreements with Telerex, CATS and DSL Components will open new supplier corridors and enable customers to have local and faster access to products.
2 days ago
New SCARA robot transforms pick-and-place and assembly operations
ABB Robotics is expanding its industrial SCARA robot portfolio with the addition of the IRB 930. The new robot, compromising three variants capable of handling 12 kg and 22 kg payloads, has been designed to meet the demands of new growth opportunities in traditional and new markets.

Login / Sign up