Charles Pringle (Mechanical Engineering Technology)
Once carbon fibers are cast into a resin and used in a composite material, retrieving those fibers can be a difficult task. However, it is beneficial to recycle and reuse the fibers from old unneeded components rather than pay the cost of acquiring new ones. The Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation (JCATI) carbon fiber recycling device condenses the multistep process of extracting the fibers by integrating all steps into one automated device. In the previous version of the device, the cutting blades turned the long composite strips into thin fingers but did not sever them across the width. The goal of the cutters is to create composite pieces small enough to undergo pyrolysis in the next section of the device, so the long thin fingers must be severed along the width at intervals to create composite chips containing long enough fibers to reuse. To sever the strips across the width, the number of blades on the cutter shafts was increased and the blades were moved closer together. The blades being closer together allows the system to act as a crosscut shredder and cut the strips along the length and width at the same time. This results in composite chips that contain fibers between 0.25” and 0.5”. These chips are small enough that they can undergo pyrolysis in the next step of the device to extract the fibers, and large enough that the fibers inside are reusable.
Keywords: Carbon Fiber Composite, Recycle, Cutters, sustainability