ALE does not proceed on the basis of existing functions, but rather on the required function of a certain structure. Shape, material, and production method are coordinated to this function. The central question is: How can we optimally realize the desired function using lightweight materials?
The ALE service package comprises five developmental phases, specifically: feasibility studies/conceptual design, detail design, prototype construction, testing, and production.
In this first phase ALE assesses the feasibility of a certain idea. It’s important that the list of requirements is properly established. Then ALE determines whether a lightweight solution is feasible in both production-technical and economic terms and works out different conceptual designs, with the aid of advanced modeling programs. This can be done rapidly and economically.
Feasible conceptual designs will be evaluated, resulting in the selection of one or more concepts. These concepts will be worked out into details, where necessary using Finite Element Methods (FEM).
Of significance here are not only the mechanical properties of a fiber-reinforced product, but its actual produceability as well. This keeps the number of prototypes to a minimum. Choice of material, design, and production technology are always a single unit. ALE guarantees its clients an optimal design within the framework of requirements.
After having made a detailed design, the next logical step is to make a prototype. Prototypes serve several purposes: holding/feeling the product, promotional purposes, but the most important one is to test the concept.
The production of a prototype also gives a good insight in the production process and possible production problems.
Companies that develop their own products but lack the facilities required for building prototypes, can also use ALE for this phase alone.
ALE can conduct several tests on prototypes, complete products and/or material samples. For mechanical testing we use the facilities of the Delft University of Technology. ALE conducts mechanical tests according to various standards including those of the ASTM and DIN. Testing covers the following aspects:
bending (3 and 4 point bending tests)
impact (high and low speed, fully instrumented)
full scale testing
Tests on pressure vessels can be conducted in-house. More information about our testing facilities can be found under “Production and Testing”. The results of the testing phase will be evaluated, and if necessary concepts will be changed and perfected.
In the last phase of the design process the product is ready for production. The complete product will be optimized for the used production technique. ALE has extensive knowledge of all the production techniques used for lightweight constructions. An overview of these production techniques can be found under “about composites”. ALE has a small production facility for the production of filament wound products. This facility can be used for small production quantities.