Innovative tool design for wind energy project

Paul Boughton

GRP and Composite moulding specialists, Norco Composites has produced a 'cutting edge' tool for leading wind energy technology company, Blade Dynamics

The Poole-based company has worked in a collaborative effort with Blade Dynamics and MouldCAM to create a flagship Rotor Blade Tip tool. The tool has enabled Blade Dynamics to realise a fast and efficient turnaround of blade tips for its next-generation 6MW offshore rotor assembly. 

The creation of the tool required Norco and Blade Dynamics to use a Cytect patented ZPREG technology due to the low expansion rate and high turnaround times of the highly structural blade tip. There were also a number of design challenges that Norco had to overcome to produce the tool, including the use of carbon fibre as a tooling material. This was overcome by carrying out a detailed thermal and structural analysis to ensure the support frame was efficient to support the tool throughout the rotational cycle of opening and closing yet not distort the mould during high temperature bake cycles. 

Norco also required a multi-zone integrated heating system with an external control unit to produce the tool. This resulted in the company teaming up with Lamina Heat, which provided its power film technology, enabling Norco to use a controllable heat source exactly where needed for each point of production. 
The tool is now CE approved and weighs 1.8 tonnes including frame and hinges. 

Commenting on the production of the tool, managing director of Norco, Mark Northey, said: "We are extremely pleased with the tool we have produced. Despite being a relatively complex tool to produce, we have now enabled Blade Dynamics' innovative blade tips to be quickly and efficiently manufactured. Norco is thrilled to be able to contribute towards the future of the renewable energy sector." 

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