I got to get my hands dirty making an e-glass test structure.
E-glass is a fiberglass cloth that is sopped with epoxy. The fiberglass cloth makes it strong in tension and the epoxy makes it more rigid.
The awesome thing about e-glass is that is can be molded to make almost any shape: airplane wings, rocket fuselages, car bodies. It is also very light weight, and extremely strong in tension and moderately strong in compression.
To create our E-Glass structure we first cut the e-glass fiber into the shape we wanted. We used a 6 inch PVC tube tube, laying out the E-Glass into a cylinder shape around the pipe. We then used paint brushes to apply the epoxy mixture over the fiber. We were very careful to not allow the epoxy to bond the PVC pipe to the e-glass material.
Before we allowed the epoxy to dry we placed another layer of the E-Glass material directly on top of the first layer and painted it on as we had for the first layer. This second layer gave the structure even more strength.
After it dried the E-Glass structure easily slid off of the PVC pipe.
After performing a basic “smoosh test” we decided to add a third layer of E-Glass to further increase the rigidity of the structure. Because we added the third later after the first and second layers had dried we got a few air bubbles in the epoxy but it wasn’t an issue.
In order for the camera to see we had to create a “window.” This window consisted of a piece of clear acrylic plastic that we heated to a high temperature and bent around the 6 inch PVC pipe. Also, in the background of the picture you can also see the finished e-glass cylinder.
After finishing the window and the e-glass we cut the pieces to size and we used hot glue to connect them together. We added sandwich foam end caps for the cylinder and cut holes out of the caps for the brass connection rod.
After a long couple days fabrication the outer structure is done. Except it needs a paint job. Someone suggested an R2-D2 design, but I’m thinking black with blue flames – like a meteor careening through Earth’s atmosphere :).