Development of Composite Props for Paramotor's / Ultralights

Discussion in 'General Experimental Aviation Questions' started by Wayne, Mar 9, 2018.

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  1. Mar 9, 2018 #1

    Wayne

    Wayne

    Wayne

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    Gang,
    Since this is an early idea I'm posting it here versus in the supplier section. As a follow on from my "where's my money coming from in retirement" thread I have been mulling a few ideas around making money in aviation (OK - you can stop laughing now!!!).

    I do think, however, a few pennies could be made making props for Butt Fans and Ultralights. People learning Butt Fans break props a lot - ask me how I know that at $300 each for wood ones.

    The general trend is towards composite props right now and my question is - "do we feel there is a way to make these props with a decent level of automation so that a knucklehead like me can produce them as a side line?"

    1) CNC machine the foam? Can I use a home made CNC setup? Maybe I hot wire them for less mess and just as fast?
    2) Laying up the Carbon Fibre - is this where I lose my time?
    3) Prop design - I need a differentiator over price.

    I like the idea of props because they are consumable and won't go away like IC engines. I could just start building props for electric, and even provide a turnkey power supply at that point.

    Cheapy - here's a business idea for you and I :gig:
     
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  2. Mar 9, 2018 #2

    TFF

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    Be easier to build a carving machine. Nothing against composite props, but do you want one that is stronger? Breaking the wood prop probably saves the engine. I prefer wood for my RC plans. Plastic and composite are nice but I would rather replace a prop than rebuild a fuselage on one of my models. I only use the plastic or composite on my pattern plane.
     
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  3. Mar 9, 2018 #3

    Aesquire

    Aesquire

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    Sensinich makes drone props by the pallet load. All wood, since they are designed to splinter and save the engine. Military drones, the smaller ones used by troops in the field and the Navy from Destroyers are often retrieved by "landing" in a big net, or skidding into a flat spot, often brush laden. Props are a consumable. From a cost benefit basis that's cheap recon. Powered paragliding, there's more reluctance to spend money but in training and adventure flying, stuff happens. ( adventure being defined as cross country and pylon racing ) So there is a market for relatively cheap props. I'd stick to wood. Resorcinol glue & a press to clamp..... or lots of clamps. Look at Valley Engineering/Culver props for inspiration on a prop duplicator, & good luck. ( resorcinol because it's the traditional waterproof glue and WORKS ) I do love the term butt fan.
     
  4. Mar 10, 2018 #4

    Victor Bravo

    Victor Bravo

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    If you made the laminations much thinner and a larger number of them, and you set it up so that the laminations can be laser or CNC router cut, then when you glue the propeller together (or vacuum bag it) it will be much much much closer to the final contour/airfoil/twist distribution. This means less time hand sanding, so you can offer a more accurate propeller at a lower cost.
     
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  5. Mar 10, 2018 #5

    Wayne

    Wayne

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    Thanks for the help you guys - this is really good food for thought. I need to figure out these machines - automation is everything here given my available time.
     
  6. Mar 10, 2018 #6

    Hephaestus

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    Wood props are pretty easy with a duplicator make one original and duplicate. You could cnc - I've had a theory for a while about CNC routed layers to improve on that old warnke almost constant speed prop of yore... Take weight out allow flex on specific lines...

    Foam Hotwire is easy - CNC process is well known too. It's an idea I toy with as I think you could get some funky ass props (think scimitar etc) - and you don't see a lot of the mixed composites in use - kevlar for some flex, carbon where you need the strength, and fiberglass for cheap. Heck they're making some twill with mixes now. There's definitely some options for development of a niche prop...

    But if it's just shape, all it takes is someone with a prop duplicator and you're fighting Chinese knockoffs. (However like that warnke - designed flex, that's harder to copy)
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  7. Mar 10, 2018 #7

    bmcj

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    Butt prop? What’s that? I didn’t know that my but needed a prop or could even have a prop.
     
  8. Mar 15, 2018 #8

    Armilite

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    =====================================================

    I suggest you visit a Prop Maker who is in the Business now, to get first hand knowledge of each process. Culver Props/Valley Engineering are in Rolla, Mo. on your way to Branson for a Weekend. Wood Props would be the easiest to get into, but I don't think there is much Profit Margin for them, once you figure your Space needed, Tooling to get Started, Time to make them, etc. Look up how many Prop makers there are now, and You as a New Company has to Prove You make Good Props. It's not as easy as you think.

    If you want something you can do at Home to make Money that is fairly cheap to start up with a short learning curve, Welding, Powder Coating Parts, Engine Coating Parts, Tube Bending & Welding Parts (Bend-Tech Software http://www.bend-tech.com/index.html ), and you could even learn some Simple CAD and Design/COPY some Parts. They call that Copying today, Reverse Engineering today, what 95% of them do. That Bend-Tech Software comes in many different Version's from Bend-Tech EZ 2D $79.00, to Bend-Tech EZ3D $159.00, on up, with add on modules. You could Design an Ultralight Airframe in 3D using it. Many CAD programs can also work, some are Free to the Home guy like Fusion 360. Look on Youtube at many Examples of Fusion 360 being used. Most Ultralight Airframe are not Patented, so start with a known design and maybe Improve upon it, change the Name, and maybe offer your own kit. Here is a set of cheap Plans http://plansdelivery.com/Ultralight.htm that gives you something to look at. Draw them into a Free Simple 2D CAD program from www.emachineshop.com put the material list into a Spread Sheet and PRICE out all the Parts needed to build it, then you will have an Idea of what it Cost You, then add on your Profit Margin. Find a good Machineshop that has a CNC Water Jet or CNC Laser that can cut out some of the Parts to save you Time. A good Tube Bender with (3) Dies around $900, Chop Saw($150) for Steel Tubing, a cheap Table Saw will work for Cutting Aluminum with the right Blade, basic hand tools, and basic hand power tools, a Press Brake($350), the Welder is probably your most exspensive tool if you really need it fr the Design. There are many CNC Small machines out today, Mills, Lathes, Routers, Plasma Cutters, and even some Water Jets, in the $1,500 to $6000 range. Like this Red bracket, took me 10 minutes to draw into emachineshop 2D CAD, he charged $3.50 to cut it out of New 3/16" Stainless total. That Red Powder Coated Bracket on eBay was $24. The more Parts you have made, your unit cost goes done.

    Chicago to St Louis to Rolla 5:59
    Chicago to St Louis to Rolla to Branson 8:15

    Valley Engeering/Culver Props (Makes Wood Props and the Back Yard Flyer) The Dad, the Brains behind the Props and Plane Company died a while back, so it might be for sale. The Plane "Back Yard Flyer" is a real nice piece of Jewelry all Welded Aluminum, but the Design needs to be Simplified to Speed up Production. Hence only make (1) Plane a year. I was there 5 days ago. They had a 2 Seat version in the works when the Dad died in an Accident. It was about finished when he died, but has been sitting ever since.

    http://www.culverprops.com/index.php

    Valley Engineering/Culver Props
    15685 Co. Rd. 7100
    Rolla, MO 65401
    ph: 573-364-6311

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Warp Drive Props (Composite Props) Chicago to Ventura, IA 6hrs maybe less depending on where you live in Chicago.
    https://warpdriveinc.com/

    Warp Drive, Inc.
    1207 Hwy 18 East
    Ventura, IA 50482 USA
     

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  9. Mar 16, 2018 #9

    BBerson

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    Are you saying Gene Smith died in an accident? (Grandpa)
    Or Larry Smith died in a accident recently? (Dad)

    Sorry to hear this. I thought Gene died of old age.
     
  10. Mar 16, 2018 #10

    Richard6

    Richard6

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    Welcome back Armilite, we've missed you.
     
  11. Apr 15, 2018 #11

    Armilite

    Armilite

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    ===========================================

    He just said his Dad, I forget his name. Which one Designed the Back Yard Flyer? I did a Google search for Rolla and his name "Gene Smith" you gave and found the obituary I think.

    http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/david-smith-obituary?pid=1000000183028172&view=guestbook

    David's Obituaries
    David Eugene "Gene" Smith, of Rolla, passed away Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at

    the age of 83.

    He was born February 22, 1933 outside of Rolla, Missouri to the late George and Susie

    (Turner) Smith.

    On June 6, 1953, he married Juanita J. Platt, whom he met while stationed in Amarillo,

    Texas during his service in the U.S. Air Force (1952-1956).

    He then returned to Rolla, Missouri and earned a bachelor degree in Mechanical

    Engineering in 1965 from the Missouri School of Mines, now Missouri S&T.

    After graduation, he worked in the engineering field for International Harvester in

    Memphis, Tennessee before returning to Rolla, raising crops and cattle, so his young

    family of four children could grow up on a farm. Soon thereafter, he attained his pilots

    license and operated a crop dusting service in the local area for 21 years. His passion for

    designing and engineering led to many accomplishments including a patented charcoal

    machine, a successful truck-pulling career and the start of a business partnership, Valley

    Engineering, LLC with his son, Larry, which led to the creation of the Backyard Flyer

    ultralights, wooden propellers and an engine re-drive system that has been used in recent

    movies and sold throughout the world. He received an engineering award from the

    Experimental Aircraft Association for his innovations in the ultralight aircraft division.



    He was a talented bluegrass musician and singer, once being part of a live Sunday

    morning gospel group featured on the radio. He was an active volunteer in the

    community and served as a board member on the Doolittle Rural Fire Department and

    the Newburg School District. He attended the Newburg Church of God.

    Above all else, he was a family-first man with strong values, a strong work ethic; an

    independent man who looked at the world through an engineer's eyes.

    He will be greatly missed by his surviving family which includes his wife of 63 years,

    Juanita Smith, of Rolla; four children, Davita Smith, of Rolla, Rita Blotter and husband

    Jerry, of Coleharbor, ND, Karen Chapman and husband Alfred, of Rolla, and Larry

    Smith and wife Verla Kay, of Rolla; two brothers, Paul Smith, of Rolla and Bland Smith

    and wife Barbara, of St. Robert, MO; nine grandchildren; eleven great grandchildren;

    nieces, nephews, his loving little dog Bud, other extended family members and many,

    many dear friends.

    The funeral service for Gene Smith will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, December 12,

    2016 at the Null & Son Funeral Home in Rolla. Interment will follow in the Roach

    Cemetery in Doolittle, Missouri. A visitation for family and friends will be held from

    6:00-8:00 p.m. Sunday, December 11 th at the funeral home.

    Online condolences may be offered at www.nullandsonfuneralhome.com

    All arrangements are under the direction of the Null & Son Funeral Home in Rolla.

    Read Less ›
    Read Full Obituary
     
  12. Apr 15, 2018 #12

    Armilite

    Armilite

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    Well Thanks!
     
  13. Apr 15, 2018 #13

    pictsidhe

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    My Inner Grammar Nazi Has Not.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
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  14. Apr 15, 2018 #14

    BBerson

    BBerson

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    Armilite, Gene designed the Backyard Flyer. I am wonduring if it was an aircraft accident?
     

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