Elevated Materials recycles waste from the spaceflight industry, keeping it out of landfill, and repurposing it for various customers’ specialist needs. This takes a fair amount of fine process control, which is where Raspberry Pi comes in to take care of precision regulation and thorough data logging.
Ryan Olliges, who founded Elevated Materials, got the idea during a secondment at the Rocket Propulsion Lab at the University of Southern California. Students were allowed to use carbon fibre offcuts for their own designs, and Ryan realised there was much more waste material on offer than he or the other students could possibly use.
The aerospace industry throws away over ten million pounds of material each year. Elevated Materials’ four-step process sees a lot of the carbon fibre trim scrap turned into high-quality flat sheets and custom parts.
Step one: “Expired material” from the waste stream of rocket production is collected from suppliers across Southern California.
Step two: The trim scrap is sorted and processed it into standardised shapes and sizes.
Step three: The materials are cured in a heated press and turned into high-quality, lightweight carbon fibre flat sheets.
Step four: Based on the customer’s requirements, the flat sheets are cut into different sizes or custom parts. A special water jet machine cuts through carbon fibre “like butter” according to Elevated Materials’ Instagram feed, which also shows the sheets used in everything from bass guitars to skateboards.
How does Raspberry Pi help?
Raspberry Pi 3B+ keeps an eye on the heated press via multiple temperature and pressure monitors, as well as providing detailed report logging so operators can see how well processes are running. The carbon fibre sheets come out the right thickness, size, and stiffness thanks to this monitoring.
A Raspberry Pi-controlled CNC router also helps out later in the process when some of the recycled material is precision-cut into custom parts.
Elevated Materials features on our Success stories page, which showcases industrial applications of our computers and microcontrollers. Check it out to learn how Raspberry Pi helps Brompton make their bicycles, iPourIt monitor their beer taps, and more.