Ed. note: Bo Wernick is a long-time Nova Labs member and runs his business, Theta Composites, from the Nova Labs Innovation Center. He has a degree in aerospace engineering, has taught numerous classes at Nova Labs from CNC to composites to computer-aided-design software, and is the program lead for Empower2Make.
By Bo Wernick
For the past year, Bo Wernick has been developing a solar-powered, carbon fiber drone. In order to make the braided carbon fiber tubes, strings of carbon have to be woven together around a shaft to create a “sleeve”. This process is done using a machine called a “Maypole Braider“. You can buy braided carbon fiber sleeves online, but they only come in a limited variety of sizes and materials (plus they are 10X more expensive than the raw strings that make them). In order to get custom braided sleeves, you have to make them yourself… challenge accepted!
This machine is a maker-special maypole braider. Designed from scratch in CAD with OnShape, then laser cut and 3d printed. It took about 15 versions to get it working correctly, but it is now officially up and running. It makes sleeves of any size with any materials with up to 18 strands at a time.
This was a fun project that was first started by Dave Fritz, who also helped with ideas during the arduous troubleshooting process. Many iterations and false starts later, the machine is ready for prime time. There is no plan yet to release the design or sell the machine as a kit, but that may happen eventually if there is interest. There is going to be a YouTube video about the design and development process it in the near future so stay tuned for that. Thanks to Nova Labs and its community of makers for all the help and inspiration.