Engineers at Interorbital Systems completed the design and construction of a filament winder, a composite assembly tool which rapidly constructs components for the company's NEPTUNE series of rockets. The filament winder, which operates on IOS-designed hardware and software, is specifically tooled to rapidly create lightweight and strong propellant tanks for the company's new Common Propulsion Module (CPM) 2.0.
According to IOS CEO Randa Milliron, the filament winder will drastically decrease the time required to build components, particularly the main propellant tanks on the CPM 2.0. Each CPM has four 20 foot long tanks, which were previously manufactured with labor-intensive composite prototyping techniques. The filament winder will also help guarantee a higher standard of manufacturing quality in IOS' next generation of launch vehicles.
Filament winding involves the wrapping of an epoxy-impregnated fiber (tow) around a central structure (mandrell), which significantly increases the structure's strength at low cost in weight. The wrapped mandrell is then heated to cure, or harden, the fibers into a solid shell.
IOS is currently planning to build a second, larger filament winder, which would further streamline the process of rocket manufacture.
An example of a miniature propellant tank's construction