Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fiberglassing for fun a profit

A wise manager at work once said "if you work on something it gets better."  He was really speaking of working on issues but I think this applies to me since fiberglassing used to be an issue for me.  As I progress toward the end of this project I'm feeling really good about the journey and the improvement of several of my skills.
    I created a rectangular template in Illustrator (21" x 50") and used it to cut a single piece of glass cloth at a 45˚ angle, again for maximum strength.  After masking the shoulder of payload section with masking tape I laid this cloth strip on the tube and tacked it in place with a few brush loads of epoxy.  It's interesting that the 45˚ cloth deforms in a way that makes it difficult to maintain adequate width and coverage on the 20" payload tube.  I had to continuously stretch the cloth to width every 6" of length or so.  I also learned to brush downward at a 45˚ angle rather than across or lengthwise.  This makes sense in retrospect but I had to figure it out on the fly.  When I'd applied the total length of cloth (2.1 wraps worth) I then squeegeed the excess resin out of the layers.  This minimizes weight without detriment to strength:
I think you can tell that this is an extremely uniform layer.  Next I started on the upper portion of the sustainer but this time I chose 0˚ cloth rather than 45˚.  The reason is that the majority of this 40" long tube is filled with either motor rube/rings or the coupler of the payload section.  There's only about a 4" gap in the tube so I don't really need the extra strength of the 45˚ hassle.  I applied the same technique as above and here's the result:
I allowed both to cure and they're über tough now.

No comments: