Last week Composites Manufacturing interviewed Clayton Triggs, business developer at Swift Engineering, on the role of composites in motorsports. This week, he’s back again and discussing the dual role of composites within aerospace and automotive, and how his company is thriving within the two markets.
What are some of the similarities between motorsport and aerospace?
Mainly the crossover between the markets relates to the design of complex composite structures. As a result, I’ve had to learn more about the regulations in aerospace that don’t exist in other industries. Swift is NADCAP-accredited, which means we can produce composite parts with aerospace quality. By gaining more projects in this sector we’re increasing our knowledge of composites for the auto industry and vice versa.
How has Swift adapted to suit both aero and auto needs?
A perfect example of how we’re investing in both markets is that we just ordered two new autoclaves to help expand our manufacturing capabilities. One is absolutely massive at around 30-feet long! Obviously that autoclave will help support our aerospace manufacturing to produce larger composite parts.
What are a few composite trends that you are noticing at Swift?
It’s a very exciting time in the composites industry. More companies are interested in lighter, stronger cars with cheaper and more efficient manufacturing processes. We realize the need for low-cost production required to make vehicles affordable for customers.
Additionally, there are new resins and materials that suppliers are distributing that are giving companies like Swift the chance to increase our scopes. Many companies are looking at tooling processes and how to best design tools to produce complex components more efficiently.
Is Swift concerned about the unstable aerospace market due to military budget cuts?
I think all companies are a little concerned about what’s going on. We have excellent partners in defense, aero and aviation and a good diversity of partners that can help us on specific projects. It gives us a marketplace advantage and helps us feel more secure about making investments like expanding our facilities.
What does the future have in store for Swift Engineering?
The reason we moved into composites instead of all race car technology so long ago was that we noticed the technology transfer the material was making from the track to auto showroom. Swift has moved from racecars to aerospace and now we’re bringing technology back to the auto industry so consumers can appreciate the benefits of composite manufacturing.
We are in the process of answering another Nippon request for the next generation racecar. Nippon is constantly enhancing its designs for performance and every 3 or 4 years it requests an updated car from scratch. We expect to continue to make composites cheaper and stronger for more users to see the benefits of well-designed materials.