Carbon fiber composites reach rock bottom


Prepregs produced by Umeco Structural Materials (Warwickshire, UK) have found their way to the deepest point in the ocean onboard the Deepsea Challenger, a record-breaking submersible which completed a solo dive to the depths of the Mariana Trench on the March 26, 2012, piloted by filmmaker James Cameron in a joint scientific project with the National Geographic Society and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research and exploration.

The prepregs were used by Australian composites parts manufacturer LSM Advanced Composites (LSM; Toowoomba, Queensland). LSM was approached by the submersible's design and build team, Acheron Project Pty Ltd. (Leichhardt, NSW, Australia), and Design + Industry (Balmain, NSW, Australia) to manufacture the carbon fiber internal lining of the Pilot Sphere, the pilot's home in the submersible. This "home," which measures 43 inches in diameter, is filled with electronics and life-support equipment. It is so small that the pilot's legs are tightly bent and he can barely move his arms. In comparison, the overall length of the Deepsea Challenger is similar to that of a stretched limousine.

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