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Audaciously rethinking functional uses for carbon fibre

1 December 2018

Sydney-based industrial design firm Talon Technology has two recent additions to its considerable portfolio of multi-award winning products – a carbon fibre tap and eyewear frames. Talon’s Managing Director Geoff Germon described the company’s new developments as “an audacious rethink” of the traditional uses for carbon fibre composites. The use of new materials and processes in the manufacture of traditional products will open up opportunities for aesthetically elegant, innovative products with greater functionality.

For example, Geoff reasons that water taps, now made with ceramic disk valves with rubber seats, no longer need to be made of metal. In terms of fabrication, the Talon carbon fibre tap is a transformational hybrid of a 3D-printed water channel, a syntactic core and a RTM (resin transfer moulding) process. The design of the tap is deliberately organic and mollusc-like, with edges and curved surfaces to make it easy to use with wet hands.

Carbon fibre tap by Talon Technology designed deliberately organic and mollusc like.

The second new product is a moulded eyewear frame that is manufactured in one piece. The front, arms and hinges are made in a single press operation, with only minor detailing and almost no post-finishing. The frame features Talon’s unique Carbon/Kevlar® hinge system which is extremely strong and can sustain over 1 million cycles, and is fully integrated into the carbon fibre frame.

The Carbon-Kevlar Hinge is made from co-moulded carbon fibre prepreg wings with a gap between that forms the flex unit. The wings are either a woven carbon fibre/epoxy laminate or a hybrid glass and carbon fibre/epoxy laminate, while the flex unit is woven Kevlar impregnated with a flexible urethane. Geoff explained “Our idea was to develop a composite hinge without any metal that would be super lightweight and also a solution for industries that can’t use metal. It took us two years to optimize the performance of this hinge and develop it to be a manufacturable product.” Other materials, such as aluminium, can be used on the frames to allow for adjustment.

Carbon fibre frames featuring the unique Carbon/Kevlar® hinge system.

For Geoff, carbon fibre is not just a pretty finish but crucial to both the form and function of the product. “I am keen for carbon fibre to stay true to its DNA which is to be useful, and not be used simply as a trim piece glued to a metal body,” said Geoff.

To add to his portfolio of activities, Geoff is also an Adjunct Professor in Design at the University of Canberra where he teaches a three-day course on composites for industrial design students. Geoff believes that educating a generation of industrial designers and engineers about composites is the catalyst for creating a future where more consumer products will made from composites.

This article first appeared in:

Connection Magazine

Issue 49: December, 2018

Author: Kerryn Caulfield

For this and more stories, please download the latest copy of our Connection magazine.

Connection Magazine is the official magazine of Composites Australia Inc.