Kevin Bialas has over 17 years experience working with composites. He has worked primarily as a process engineer in the motorsports sector with such firms as Downing Atlanta, Elan Motorsports, Riley Technologies, and USF1. He was recently hired by Composite Resources, a firm that offers design, prototype and manufacturing of composite solutions for clients in a variety of industries, including motorsports.
What will you do in your new position?
I manage a staff which focuses on product development and process engineering. We work with all different types of customers, ranging from independent inventors to motorsport firms and even the military. We take their ideas for products they want to make and create building prototypes and also design tooling for production manufacturing so that we can take their products into real production beyond just making 1 to 2 parts.
Are there any challenges moving from design to manufacturing?
The biggest thing is coming up with a design that can actually be manufactured. Many people have come across situations where something looks great in computer-aided design (CAD) but they can’t actually manufacture it. Or even if they can make it, it’s not really optimized for production. You can spend a lot of time making one or two parts, but a lot of times we make small changes to a part that can have a huge impact on how easy it is to produce. It can go from a 10 to 15 a month part production to thousands per month with a design change. It just depends on the individual job, but that’s one of the big things we look at, to make sure customers are designing something to be manufactured in a manner to suit their end use. Sometimes their component might be a low-volume part not able to produce thousands of, but other times they want to make it as easy to produce as possible.
Are there manufacturing methods unique to motorsports?
I don’t think they’re necessarily unique to motorsports. They do a lot of vacuum bag and autoclave curing. There’s also some use of trapped rubber molding and bladder molding. These processes are used in other industries as well, but I think the biggest thing with motorsports is that they’ll take on the challenges of making complex parts out of composite materials, sometimes more so than other industries.