Filament winding machines place or wind continuous fibers on a mandrel surface in a precise geometric pattern. The mandrel is rotated while a delivery mechanism precisely positions the fibers on the mandrel surface. Manufactures of composite materials use filament winding machines to produce strong, durable and lightweight materials that are stronger than steel. Suppliers of filament winding machines conform to a variety of quality standard and are located across North America and around the world.
Filament winding machines typically use fibers that are soaked in a thermosetting resin and cured after the winding process. After curing occurs either at room temperature or in a curing oven, the mandrel is removed, leaving a hollow structure. These structures are used as towers and tanks, pipes and duct work, support structures, and smokestacks. Filament winding equipment uses several different axes of motion to produce materials in a specific pattern. The spindle or mandrel moves on a rotational axis and is joined by other additional axes, such as a rotating eye axis or yaw motion axis. These additional axes provide the flexibility for a filament winder to create precise and complex patterns. Some winders can even precisely place specific fibers where needed, to ensure characteristics such as thermal stability in a particular area. A multiple spindle winder is capable of producing complex shapes, not just cylindrical, and can produce very large parts as well as very small.
Filament winding machines are used to build diverse products such as aircraft fuselages, missile housings, and nose cones for spacecraft. Using continuous strands of strong carbon fiber or fiberglass, a filament winding machine can also been used to create other military, defense, and engineering components, such as the large blades used in wind turbines. Filament winding machines are computer numerically controlled (CNC) devices that use automation and computer controlled motion to create specific components. Sidewinder is a brand-specific type of filament winding machine for creating bulk storage tanks.