When to Seek Out a Composite Cylinder Repair Service


In an increasingly technological world, composite cylinders have become integral components in many sectors, owing to their high strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance. From fire-fighting and aerospace industries to gas and air storage applications, these cylinders are used in various high pressure and hazardous environments. The types of composite cylinders are diverse, encompassing carbon composite cylinders, used in all types of industries, each having its own unique properties and uses.

However, like any mechanical component, these cylinders can face wear and tear, compromising their efficiency and, more importantly, safety. To ensure their longevity and maintain their optimal performance, it is crucial to be proactive in identifying signs of damage and seeking out a professional composite cylinder repair service. But how do you know when it’s time for a repair? What are the telltale signs that your composite cylinder might need professional attention?

In this blog post, we aim to answer these questions and shed light on the importance of maintaining and repairing your composite cylinders, thereby ensuring their efficient operation and your safety. Whether you’re a seasoned industry professional or a novice just getting started, this guide will help you understand when and why you should turn to a composite cylinder repair service.

Understanding Composite Cylinders

Composite cylinders are designed to handle gases at a high pressure at a reduced overall weight. The way this is accomplished is by using a shell, composed of either metal or a plastic derivative, to create a size or unique shape. This shell is then wrapped in a material such as fiberglass or carbon fiber. Carbon Fiber being the most popular. The fibers are wrapped around the shell in a certain configuration. The direction and amount of fiber wrap determines the pressure rating of the cylinders. Carbon Fibers are 5X the strength of steel and 2X the stiffness.

These high-pressure cylinders have the ability to store compressed gases at a much higher pressure than conventional steel or aluminum cylinders. Due to the ability to contain high pressures, in a lighter cylinder, they are used in aviation, fire fighting and vehicles, all areas where weight can be a detriment. Composite cylinders are regulated to determine manufacturing standards, placement, repair and inspection standards.

Signs that Your Composite Cylinder Needs Repair

Composite Cylinder’s are manufactured to very high standards. However, the exterior of these cylinders have minimal protection. After the fibers are wrapped around the cylinder they may be covered with a layer of fiberglass for protection as well as a final resin coating. The resin and fiberglass is susceptible to cut, abrasion and impact damage. It is very important that the users and maintenance personnel take an overall look of the composite cylinders, looking for any damage.

Depending on the use of the cylinder, each of the above damages may occur. They can be cut by being improperly secured. They can be susceptible to abrasions by being dragged and impact damage by being dropped or struck by a heavy object. The composite cylinders exterior might discolor over time, but if any of the 3 other damages are noticed, they must be inspected and ran through some simple measurements and tests to ensure continued safety during transport.

If damage goes beyond the protective resin layer, and comes in contact with the fiberglass layer a close inspection is required to ensure the damage has not touched the carbon fiber. If any of the carbon fiber is damaged, then it puts strain on the remaining carbon fibers. Eventually, as the damage progresses, and layers of fiber get damaged, it could eventually cause a rupture.

How a Composite Cylinder Repair Service Can Help

If the inspection is conducted, the damage can be caught before it reaches the fibers. Resin can be re-applied to protect the fiberglass and resin. The resin is available as a 2-part epoxy sold in most hardware stores. However, after such a repair, the composite cylinder must be hydrostatically requalified by a licensed hydrostatic test facility.

The concern is that an untrained, or uneducated technician may cover or repair damage that should NOT have been repaired. If damage to carbon fiber is covered, it is more difficult for others to observe the damage. It is best to have a trained and knowledgeable technician look at the cylinder. They need the knowledge to condemn it if required or repair if able. If the technician does not understand how to properly inspect for damage, they cause a dangerous situation. At the same time, the technician may condemn a safe cylinder.

Case Studies of Composite Cylinder Repairs

Composite cylinders can be very expensive. Many fire districts will pay thousands of dollars for a single SBA cylinder. Aviation is no different. Specific cylinders, designed for a specific use are not cheap. A trained technician can decide if the composite cylinder may be repaired or should be removed from service.

Inspecting the exterior of an SCBA cylinder can be done efficiently and timely with a trained technician. If they locate repairable damage, they can apply the fix and get the cylinder prepared for service. An untrained technician may condemn a cylinder valued at a minimum of a thousand dollars. Bringing in a trained technician to inspect your composite cylinders can save thousand of dollars Much less than replacing the cylinders. During a recent composite inspection service for a fire district, 10 composite cylinders were able to be returned to service. Saving the district $10,000.

A facility has a choice of training their in house technicians or reach out to a company specializing in composite cylinder inspection and repair.

Picture of Don Kinney

Don Kinney

I enjoy continuing to build the business based on safety since 1999. CTS focuses on the inspection of high pressure cylinders, the maintaining of the valves and basic maintenance of high pressure compressor systems. CTS stays current in techniques and tools to train both the new and novice employee. We publish articles, update training tools and have created an APP to assist during the inspection process.
#cylinder #safety #hazmat #training #cylinderinspectiontraining #cylindex

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