These items were reported by correspondent Roger Renstrom at the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering Symposium and Exposition, held March 25-28 in Anaheim, Calif. Aerospace contract manufacturer Fiber Innovations Inc. will double its space this spring and its employment within the next year to meet defense requirements for further development work.
``We're finding interest in our technology, and we see design and certification barriers coming down,'' said President Garrett Sharpless.
During April and May, Fiber Innovations, which also supplies materials for recreational equipment, will move five miles to an expandable, 20,000-square-foot facility in Walpole, Mass., from its current 10,000-square-foot site in Norwood, Mass.
The company's 20 employees focus on the use of resin transfer molding with braiding and stitching processes.
The Army Soldier Systems' Command named Fiber Inno-vations its most valuable small business vendor in 1995 for work on pressurized flexible composites for modular shelters.
The structures of Kevlar aramid fiber and urethane with a gas membrane liner could shelter helicopters during in-field maintenance, or could be used for other housing needs, according to the company.
CAD allows new kind of customer 'support'
Athletic shoe manufacturer Nike Inc. of Beaverton, Ore., is co-supporting a venture's development of a toolless automated process for prototype or production molding of thermoplastic parts directly from a computer-aided-design file.
``We are finishing the alpha machine and will demonstrate the technology in May,'' said Linda Clements, a composites industry consultant with C & C Technologies in Dayton, Nev., who serves as director of materials research and development for the venture, known as Continu-ous Molding Inc.
Theodore Jacobson of Pacifica, Calif., invented the process and does the development work. Initially, the process will emulate sheet thermoforming of small parts, with work later on large-scale sheet thermoforming, matched-die molding and injection molding.
In practice, a retail shoe store will scan the feet of a prospective customer, the technology will be used to create custom insoles and the runner or walker will insert them into the Nike athletic shoes. The process also could be used to meet individual orthopedic needs.