It’s all about the fibre

CIMApr17filament - cygnet
CIMApr17filament - cygnet

Luke Vardy, managing director of independent specialist creel designer and manufacturer, Cygnet Texkimp offers this overview of where the company is positioned within the UK’s rich tapestry of manufacturing innovation.

Customers come to Cygnet Texkimp because of our understanding of the fibre. They are looking for machines that maintain the integrity of the fibre, so that they can use less of it and ultimately create products that are stronger, lighter and cheaper. They also want better production throughput and improved fibre to resin weight ratios.

Customers want to de-risk their investment in machinery, and our R&D facility with its production-scale machines allows them to run dedicated trials in a secure environment before committing. This area of our business has helped to transform the way we work with customers and allows us to develop more collaborative partnerships.

With increasing demands for faster and more efficient production rates, automation is a core part of our business, and in the last five years, an increase in the size of PAN packages led us to diversify into the design and production of handling and automation solutions. Growing demand for these has resulted in us offering full turnkey handling and packaging lines that integrate with our fibre processing machinery.

Working with our industrial robotic partners, we’ve developed our technology to post-process mandrels, including trimming, spraying, polishing and inspection. We offer robotic filament winding cells to manufacture more complex shapes, or simply to improve production rates, and have recently taken this concept a major step forward to offer significantly higher deposition of fibre with our high-speed robotic 3D Winder.

The 3D Winder uses the latest Industry 4.0 digital technology, including simulation and autonomous robots which allow us to shorten product development cycles and improve productivity. Growing awareness of Industry 4.0 is driving major developments in interconnectivity. Being able to monitor the torque on motors, for example, allows us to offer proactive support and maintenance, pre-empt and notify customers of potential failures, and schedule production slots to fix problems. Our customers have seen important improvements in up-time thanks to their ability to plan targeted maintenance.

Meanwhile, the main focus of our R&D investment is to investigate how we can most effectively consolidate thermoplastics into the filament winding process. As the composites industry takes concerted strides into the field of thermoplastics, the need for compatible technology becomes critical. Thermoplastics offer significant benefits in terms of consistency and price.

Another key thrust of our R&D work is to develop ways to produce unconventional, non-linear products from filament winding. For example, we’re currently looking at the benefits of 3D printing mandrels, but we need to consider how we can combine the two techniques to create the most effective technologies possible. However, filament winding offers benefits that can’t be matched by 3D printing, such as the considerable hoop strength of the finished parts.

Cygnet Texkimp’s processing and handling machines are designed to minimise contact with the fibre in order to safeguard its integrity and improve the quality, consistency and value of the finished product. We also have one of the best software control teams in the industry, and this has allowed us to develop the cutting-edge tensioning control systems that are central to consistent fibre laydown.

Above all, our greatest asset is our people. By bringing together a highly-skilled and knowledgeable team from a mixture of backgrounds, including textiles, plastics, academia, and production, we have created an environment where ideas and techniques from each sector can be cross-fertilised to develop truly cutting-edge technology.

The principle defining feature of our business is our unparalleled technical understanding of how to handle fibre in order to eliminate damage. Our company was founded over forty years ago as one of the manufacturing forerunners of the British textile industry. We’ve worked hard to retain that knowledge, and though our business has evolved into the international technical textile markets, the way our machines handle the fibre is still key to our success.


Cygnet Texkimp

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