The need for longer sprayer booms makes composite materials in agricultural equipment | World of Composites

The transition from steel to carbon fiber/glass fiber composites can extend the width of sprayer boom arms, reduce weight, reduce costs, and increase productivity. #Autoclave#Weaving#Regulations
Meet agricultural needs. In the agricultural equipment market, a growing application of composite materials is the boom for self-propelled spraying equipment, which is used to apply liquid chemicals to crops. Source | Deere Company
Due to the integration, the continuous agricultural fields in North America, Argentina and Brazil are expanding, and due to the increase in no-tillage agriculture in some areas, farmers hope that the boom of the sprayer system will be longer to reduce the number of passes that cover the wider area. Big field. This also reduces soil compaction and improves productivity and crop yields.
In order to meet this demand, the Argentine branch of King Marine SA (Valencia, Spain) ironically, its core business is to use aerospace-grade carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) to manufacture composite boat components and use them in other markets With its expertise in composite materials, it developed a new sprayer boom for self-propelled spray equipment. In use, the boom stretches out and extends perpendicular to the main shaft of the tractor, and allows farmers to apply liquid chemicals (such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers) to crops. After use, they are refolded and stored along the tractor body to avoid entanglement with fences and allow farmers to drive on the road.
The limit of metal. Due to the need for a large support structure to prevent the arm from bending under torsional and fatigue loads, the sprayer arm traditionally made of steel has reached the practical structure and width limit. Source | Deere Company
For a long time, the boom has been made of steel, but as the length increases, a larger support structure is required to prevent the arm from bending under torsional and fatigue loads and accidental impacts from fences, trees and other structures . (The high fatigue load is the reason why the boom will never transition to aluminum.) In turn, longer booms and larger support structures make farmers have to buy larger tractors to carry heavier spraying equipment and require Larger storage tanks to hold more liquid. However, in solving a problem, heavier equipment resulted in increased soil compaction, which resulted in reduced crop yields. In addition, many agrochemicals corrode metals, and longer booms require more complicated folding mechanisms to store the boom. In the end, the steel boom reached a practical limit of about 36 meters (120 feet). Nevertheless, the market (especially in the Americas) still needs a longer period of prosperity.
The Great Depression of 2008 was disastrous for individuals and businesses. The 20-year-old family business King Marine has manufacturing plants in Picassent, Spain and Campana, Argentina. The company entered a booming business in 2008, producing CFRP components, especially masts, for high-performance yachts.
“That was when the global recession began, and the luxury marine market suffered a huge blow,” recalled Natalia Dakko, European CEO and internal auditor of Golden Ocean Corporation. “Our sales dropped sharply and we stopped building ships. Because our company is in danger, we are in crisis mode. We have a large number of technicians, engineers and experts-they are all experts in carbon fiber [composites]. The question is, “What are we going to do now? “. King Composite SL was created to explore non-marine CFRP applications.
It’s longer than ever. The composite boom has the functions of unfolding and stretching, and is easy to use. Source | Deere Company
In 2009, an Argentine’s unexpected solution came from an Argentine whose own company produces agricultural sprayer systems. The man was frustrated with the problem of the metal boom that bothered him. Dacko recalled: “He told us that he wanted the boom to be lighter, longer, fatigue-free, corrosion-resistant, and easy to repair.” Although King Composite had no previous experience in agricultural equipment, a team made a CFRP prototype. I was very satisfied, and started the growth business of King Composite and Argentine agricultural equipment OEM. King Composites will eventually be renamed King Agro SL.
With the growth of the compound sprayer boom business, King Agro is known for its innovative and high-quality products. A few years later, an agricultural equipment leader came to the fore in his sprayer boom battle. Engineering team members from Deere & Co. (Moline, Illinois, USA) met with King Agro in 2015 to discuss business opportunities. Soon King Agro produced and distributed CFRP booms for the John Deere brand.
“We started with King Agro’s design and recommendations, coupled with Deere’s development results, and found that they are very applicable,” King Agro general manager Phillip Ferree explained. “First, our joint team made some changes to improve the reliability and durability of the South American market, and launched these products in 2015. At the same time, we started designing second-generation products for North America and Europe. To satisfy According to local regulations, we need to have different functions in terms of durability and impact, which requires the conversion of metal specifications to composite design.” These products were commercialized in 2017.
“In the first meeting, we spent three hours discussing the different functions of sprayers in North and South America,” recalls Thomas Bartlett, head of product engineering for Deere sprayers. Not only do they use different folding methods-there are 20 different folding methods according to the market and regulations, but also the farming conditions are different. In Brazil, they use no-till agriculture. In North America, unless different farming methods are adopted and supervision is strengthened, its limitations will be even greater. The differences in Europe are greater, and the farms are much smaller. They place the chemicals in a centralized manner, so they bring sprayers to the warehouse for replenishment, instead of bringing chemicals to the site for replenishment as we did in the Americas. “In addition, in some areas, pipes transport liquids from tanks to nozzles via arms, but in other locations, pipes run under the arms. Another challenge is to extend the time of the boom, because it is added here or there. A meter does not necessarily provide a viable solution. Instead, the engineer must consider the way crops are grown in each geographic area and the distance between rows and rows.
Fold up for easy storage. The boom is stowed to facilitate travel between the field and equipment storage. Source | Deere Company
The boom has multiple composite tubular structures with a square cross-section, which are in turn connected by special “ends” connected to the fluid delivery system. Special design features molded into the main structure provide the components with the required functions to hydraulically open/close and deliver fluid under high pressure. Bartlett added: “With the hydraulic system, we are able to integrate many of the functions we need, so we can put them together and create a simpler design.” Deere asked the boom to be deployed in less than 1 minute/ Store and deliver fluid within two seconds after starting the pump.
All composite materials use epoxy matrix and are vacuum packed and autoclaved. Depending on whether the component requires higher strength or higher impact, a combination of carbon fiber and glass fiber reinforced materials is used. Most carbon fibers are 24K tows, but in various forms, from unidirectional weaving to twill weaving, suitable for appearance layers with transparent coating appearance. Where more strength and rigidity are required at the joints and locations of hydraulic interaction, heavier structures with more layers are used. Depending on the model and market, the annual output ranges from 100 to 1,000 systems. King Agro estimates that in 2017, the total global market for self-propelled sprayers was 14,000 units/year.
“In this program, our goal is to extend the boom to 40 meters, but reduce the weight by 30%, because weight is very important,” said Jonathan Nelson, a Deere composite spray boom design engineer. “When you hang a large weight on the front or rear of the machine, you are struggling with inertia, so it is much more difficult to balance the load between the front and rear axles. We also want to improve corrosion resistance, but The galvanic corrosion in the presence of carbon fiber must be considered. Another requirement is to have a higher impact force, because you will never see that the sprayer does not hit anything. We have conducted standardized tests for metals, which involve moving The arm is inserted into the fence pile for hundreds of cycles.” Since the equipment travels at a speed of 24-30 kilometers per hour (15-19 miles per hour) and the spraying pressure of the pipeline is 276-414 KPa [40-60 psi], The working load and fatigue strength of the parts are surprisingly high.
Three years later, the cooperation between the two parties was so successful that in 2018, Deere acquired King Agro, which now manufactures booms in its facilities and then ships them to Deere, Iowa, USA and Horst, the Netherlands. Final assembly at the John Deere factory. According to reports, the transaction allowed King Agro to retain its brand name, trademark and business relationships.
The benefits of a light boom. Lighter boom means better fuel economy, lower maintenance costs, larger working width, longer service life, lower operating costs, easier on-site repairability and fewer machines Traces and higher efficiency, thus achieving a greater yield. Source | Deere Company
After converting to composite materials, the boom can extend from 36 meters (120 feet) to 40 meters (132 feet). Compared with steel, CFRP is six times stronger and 5.5 times lighter, provides higher impact and does not corrode. Lighter boom means better fuel economy, lower maintenance costs, larger working width, longer service life, lower operating costs and higher efficiency, and fewer machine marks can be achieved Greater harvest. Another benefit is repairability. Nielsen added: “Our dealers may suffer catastrophic failure. Cut the part in half, add some resin, clamp it and cure it, so it’s fine.” “It’s actually better than welding steel Easy to fix.”
“The best part is the customer’s benefit,” Bartlett added. “Using carbon fiber products, they can increase productivity. They can be relaxed without increasing weight, cover more land, reduce soil compaction, and the reduction in ground pressure has a positive effect on yield.”
Ferree agreed: “From a design perspective, composite materials allow us to perform things that current materials that are restricted in structure and width cannot do,” he explained. “From steel products to high-quality CFRP products, especially in the Americas, we have achieved a solid transition because we have brought higher productivity. In this field, it has a larger width. Lighter, wider The boom can be installed on a smaller, lower-cost tractor. Or, it can transport more liquid on a given tractor while maintaining the same quality. Either way, between the front axle and the rear axle The load balance has been improved, and the center of mass is closer to the center of the machine, thus improving the rider’s comfort of the operator.”
“We do see the application of carbon fiber in other products,” predicted Aaron Wetzel, vice president of Deere Agriculture and Turf Crop Care Platform. “In the next few years, we will explore more opportunities to enable lighter weight and stronger functions than steel to add value to our customers.”
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Post time: Oct-29-2020
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