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An Introduction to Aerospace Composite Manufacturing Technology

Greg Hasko Applications Engineer Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology ghasko@ccat.us

Aerospace Composite Manufacturing Assessment

This document is intended to be an introduction to the various processes used in manufacturing structural composites for aerospace. We review the raw materials, primary and secondary manufacturing methods, inspection, emerging methods, and software tools that enhance the flow of information between design, analysis and manufacturing. Links are provided to the sources in each of the topics covered. This document will be updated on at least an annual basis.


page Part Characteristics Airframe vs Engine Raw Materials Fibers, Matrices, Inserts Manufacturing Methods Shaping and Curing Material Formats Processes & Equipment 4 6 11 19 25

Emerging Methods
Software Tools Design, Analysis, Manufacturing National Resource Centers

71 83

Typical Airframe Part Characteristics

Large dimensions; several feet to 10s of feet. Low to medium contour. Mostly moderate temperature environment. Need damage tolerance. Some need anti-ice. Mostly one part / per part-number / per vehicle.

Typical Engine Part Characteristics

Smaller dimensions; several inches up to several feet. More severe contours. Temperatures can go beyond polymer matrix capability. Need damage tolerance, erosion resistance. Some need anti-ice. Can have multiple parts / per part-number / per engine.

Composite Structures are Created by Combining the following Materials

Fibers Matrix Cores and Inserts Adhesives

Fiber Materials
Aerospace parts are made from a few types of fibers. They vary widely in density, mechanical properties and cost.

If not planned carefully, fiber deposition can add high labor costs.
The thermal expansion needs to be accounted for in tool design.
Density [Lb/in3] Fiberglass [two types] Aramid [multiple brands] .091 .052 max use temp [F] 700 500 modulus [MLb/in2] 10-13 17 strength [KLb/in2] 500-650 400 CTE [x10-6 in/in/F] 3 -3.5

Graphite [many types]

Silicon Carbide






Matrix Materials
Aerospace parts are made with several types of matrix materials. They vary widely in temperature resistance, processing characteristics and cost.
Density [Lb/in3] Epoxy Bismaleimide [BMI] .046 .046 max use temp [F] 200 300 modulus [MLb/in2] 0.5 0.7 strength [KLb/in2] 10 15 CTE [x10-6 in/in/F] 40 40

Polyethersulfone [PES] Polyetherether-ketone [PEEK] Carbon Ceramic Metal

.049 .048 .063 .090 .10-.16

350 250 3000+ 2000+ 1000+

.4 0.5 1-2 10 10-17

12 15 1 10 20-100

27 25 1-2 2 5-12 8

Cores & Inserts

Aerospace parts are frequently made in a sandwich construction of composite skins with low density cores.
Local inserts are used for strength at joints.
Density [Lb/ft3] Fiberglass/phenolic honeycomb Aramid/phenolic honeycomb Foam, closed cell, PMA Syntactics [glass spheres in resin matrix] Solid Laminated or Metallic Core Inserts Inserts Functional Materials 3-8 2-9 2-19 40 95-173 max use temp [F] 500 350 300 200-450 200-600

Metallic fasteners with special features for strong joints in composites, typically bonded in place. Various materials are being embedded to enable structural health monitoring and actuation. 9

There is a wide variety of adhesives used in aerospace structures, available in several compositions and forms.

Paste Film Foaming Powder Tackifier

Usually a 2-part system that is mixed just prior to application. Some cure at room temperature, some at elevated temperature. Thin films supplied on rolls, and must be refrigerated. They can be cut and applied in selected patterns. They require heat to cure. These are pastes that foam upon cure, to fill hollows in a part or to splice edges of honeycomb cores. Usually a version of the matrix resin that is applied to dry fabric used for RTM parts. The powder is used to provide tack to hold plies together during preforming steps. It should not detract from the cured mechanical properties. A wide variety of materials and forms take advantage of the unique properties at the nanometer level. Order-of-magnitude increases are possible in mechanical and electrical properties of matrix resins, adhesives and coatings. 10

Nano Additives

Composite Manufacturing Methods


Manufacturing Methods
There are two main approaches for manufacturing of composites, based on whether the resin is introduced before or after shaping the fibers.
Choices made in the design of a part influence which branch is followed, and the types of processes and equipment that are used. Cost-effective parts need to be designed with a knowledge of the processes involved. Repeatable quality and cost are achieved by properly specifying all parameters.



Manufacturing Methods
Another way to classify manufacturing processes is by the shaping and the curing methods. Shaping Fabric, Manual Prepreg or, w/ Tackifier Stitching Machine Filament Wind Braid 3D Weave Pultrude Stitching + fixtures Automated Fiber Placement Curing - Heat & Presure Self-Contained Mold Press Autoclave/Vacuum Bag Oven/Vacuum Bag Electron Beam/Vacuum Bag Pultrusion


Resin Applied Prior To Shaping [Prepreg Material]

The typical sequence for these types of processes:







Resin Applied After Shaping [Dry Material]

The typical sequence for these types of processes:









*There are many variations of these processes


Design / Manufacturing Information Flow

Information flow is as important as material flow.
Machine-specific software for cutting plies

Structural FEA Model

Cutting File Process FEA Models [emerging]

3D CAD Model Ply shapes & s/ns

Bill of Materials Sequence of Operations

Company-wide software for purchasing and scheduling


Process Specifications Ply s/n

Documentation for technicians

Ply orientation


Finished Part Manufacturing Methods

Manual Layup / Resin Transfer Mold Manual Lauyp / Compression Mold Manual Layup/Autoclave Mold

All surfaces are tooled Good for multi-hollow parts All surfaces are tooled Practical size limited by press capacity Usually one surface is tooled, but can add caul sheet on opposite side High capital and operating costs

Airframe Engine

Automated Fiber Placement/ Autoclave Mold

Filament Winding, Braiding Roll Wrapping

High deposition rates Allows continuous fibers over large areas

Variable cross section Minimal labor High Rate Circular sections, tapered



High rate, constant cross section Minimal labor

Need special bits, settings, coolant Can use ultrasonic, laser and waterjet

X X 17

Common Needs for All Manufacturing Approaches

1. Tooling to deliver an accurate shape after cure.

2. Accurate fiber placement alignment within 2 of nominal, uniform spacing, no wrinkles.

3. Complete resin introduction no dry spots, typically 40 50% by volume. 4. Air removal minimal void content, below 2%.

5. Compaction for good strength-to-weight ratio, need from 14 to 150 psi.

6. Cure needs to be above the maximum service temperature. 7. Finishing operations: machining, bonding, coating.


Material Formats


Typical Characteristics of Prepreg Materials

Resins are applied to single tows that are up to wide, or to 2D fabrics, that are stored on spools. This process, called prepregging, adds cost but eliminates the need for the part fabricator to worry about resin mixing and resin content. The physics of resin flow into fibers limit the ply thickness that can be made to the range of .005 to .050. The primary type of resin used in aerospace is thermosetting, has a limited working time at room temperature, and must be stored under refrigeration. Thermoset prepregs are tacky, which aids laying up plies into contoured molds. Thermoplastic prepregs do not need refrigeration, and are not tacky.


Typical Characteristics of Dry Fiber Materials

Dry processing uses the lowest cost form of the raw materials. Resin is introduced by the Resin Transfer Molding [RTM] process, or by in-line wetout. The thickness that can be molded is only limited by the resin characteristics; the flow time before it gels and the threat of exotherm in thick areas. Some resins give off gaseous byproducts that need to be removed before cure. Dry fibers are not tacky, and require binder materials or stitching to stabilize complex shapes. Some binders are thermosetting and dissolve into the matrix resin.


Typical Characteristics of Conventional Fabrics

Many types; plain, satin, crowfoot, etc. Widths can be up to 5. Large databases of material properties exist. The size and type of fiber in each direction can be varied to create hybrids. An extreme case is uniweave, with heavy graphite in one direction and fine fiberglass in the other, to approximate prepreg tape.


Typical Characteristics of Non-Crimp Fabrics

One ply can have multiple layers at different angles, held together by lightweight knitted fiber; can reduce labor content.
Cured laminates have higher properties than conventional weaves. Widths can be up to 12.


Methods to Increase Through-Thickness Properties

To improve impact, strength and thermal properties in the thickness direction, a variety of methods are available: 3D Weaving & Braiding Jacquard looms, etc Stitching industrial strength Z Pins small embedded composite pins

3D weaving and braiding also reduce ply layup labor; however the linear production rate is slower than 2D fabrics.


Manufacturing Processes and Equipment


Hand Layup

This is the traditional method, needing trained technicians. It can be done with prepreg and dry material. To form the material around tight contours without wrinkling, relief slits or darts are cut. Fibers within a ply shear and skew as they are placed onto contoured molds. The pattern of darts and the sequence of laying down the perimeter of large plies needs to be repeated from part to part. This method is susceptible to FOD being cured within the laminate; gloves, tape, knife blades, etc.


Ply Placement Templates and Draping

For repeatability when using hand layup, guides are needed to align ply directions and edges. These guides can be scribe lines on molds, mylar sheets, or fabricated metal or composite templates that pin into location at the edge of the mold. Plies at the edge of a part may have extra tabs designed into the flat patterns to allow verification by an inspector. These tabs are trimmed off after cure.

Note that the weave pattern distorts when placed onto a contoured mold. The hoop strength of the red zone is much different than the blue zone. The designer must specify the draping method, and this information must be transmitted to the shop floor. See the Software section for packages that can simulate draping.



CAD-Driven Ply Placement Guides

Laser-Guided Ply Placement

Projectors that operate from CAD data display ply patterns and fiber angles onto the mold during hand layup. Line width adjustment is needed in highly sloped areas. Tolerance bands can be indicated in the projected pattern.

Video-Guided Ply Placement


CNC Ply Cutter

These machines are used for dry or prepreg material. Ply shapes are determined manually and scanned into a digital data file, or determined from software that models draping and flattening for contoured shapes. Software is also used to pack the ply patterns efficiently to minimize waste when cutting.


Braiding Processes
Modified shoelace machines are used, usually with dry fibers. Braided sleeving can be packaged on a spool for hand layup, or contoured mandrels can be fed through the machine to braid onto the net shape. Braided preforms typically go into an RTM process, although prepreg and in-line wetout have been demonstrated. Large commercial braiders have an approximate 7-foot ID, which can be fully covered with near-hoopwise fibers. However, another limit is the diameter that can be fully covered at a given angle with the fiber bandwidth of about .25. The maximum diameter that can be fully covered at a 45 degree angle is 8. Specialty braiders exist that are almost four times this size. Since all the spools on the machine must pass over and under each other, they are smaller than those on weaving looms. Therefore, reloading time is a factor in determining the maximum attainable length and cost. Typical parts include propeller spars, missile bodies, bushings, accessory beams.

Braiding Parameters



Braiding machines can be set up to deliver one or two sets of fiber; a biaxial set and an axial [0 degree] set. The combination of biaxial and axial is called triaxial. The angle of the biaxial fibers can range from nearly 0 degrees to nearly 90 degrees. Different types and weights of fiber can be used to create hybrids. The choices of these parameters depend on the structural and cost requirements. Straight and curved parts can be made by using appropriate mandrel handling devices. The cross-section can not have concave areas, or the fibers will bridge. Severe cross section changes can be accommodated, such as the transition from the cylinder to the flange of a bushing. The mandrel can be reciprocated back and forth to build up layers. Other fabrics and core materials can be inserted between layers. Removable pins on the mandrel enable net-shaped holes without drilling.


3D Braiding and Weaving

3D fiber architectures and shaped crosssections [I, T, hollow, etc] are made on braiders that control the motion of every fiber spool. Jacquard weaving looms control the interweaving of each yarn to achieve similar results.

3D Braider Individual yarn controller

3Tex I-Beam

Jacquard Loom


Pultrusion Process

Dry fibers are pulled through a resin applicator and a curing die. Shaping and curing occur nearly simultaneously. Typical parts are floor beams and strengthening inserts in wing spars. Entire wing sections have been demonstrated. Parts are limited to straight, constant crosssectional shapes. Parts to several feet in width can be pultruded, given enough pulling capacity. Length is limited only by the creel capacity and take-up provisions. Fabrics, cores and inserts can be incorporated. A variation called Pullforming is used in the automotive industry to make leaf springs. Wet fibers are drawn onto a heated rotating mandrel having a shaped cavity.


Resin Transfer Molding Processes

In this process dry preforms are enclosed in a mold, then a thermosetting resin is introduced. This reduces capital and operating expenses compared to autoclave curing. Very complex parts can be made, such as vane/ring packs. Resin selection is limited to those that have low viscosity [<1000 cP], for long enough time [typically 1 hour] to complete the injection. There are numerous variations, basically divided into matched mold and bag mold methods. There are some similarities to plastic injection molding, but the resin is much lower in viscosity and the cure cycle is much longer than a quick cooling cycle. Part quality is improved with dry nitrogen purging followed by vacuum.

RTM Transmission Fitting Thick-wall graphite composite. ~20-piece mold was used.

Final edges were machined.


Preforming for RTM Processes

A binder is applied to the fabric before plies are cut out. Plies are shaped and stabilized on preforming molds, usually with vacuum and some heat, prior to assembly into the RTM mold. This increases preform repeatability and reduces the RTM mold cycle time.
Stitching is also used to make shaped preforms, and in addition provides translaminar strength. Fixtures hold the fabric in alignment during the stitching process.


RTM in a Matched Mold

RTM in a matched mold provides an excellent finish on all surfaces. It enables using 3D textile preforms that can not be made by prepreg methods. Parts are typically up to a few feet in size. The preform has a great influence on the flow pattern. The closed mold is a pressure vessel [typically 100 to 200 psi], and needs great stiffness to yield parts with uniform wall thickness.

RTM Mold
Injector or pressure pot

Vacuum Pump


Typical Features of RTM Molds

Inlet and outlet ports locations optimized to completely fill the preform. High stiffness to resist preform compaction and resin injection pressures. Clamps - either around the perimeter, or use an external frame or press. Heating can be integrally heated with electric rods, steam, or hot oil, or a press or oven can be used. Sensors thermocouples and other types to monitor pressure and degree of cure. Vacuum-tight; O-rings enclose the part cavity. The mold can have multiple cavities.

Molds may have over 100 internal pieces, manually assembled.

Trapped mandrels are removed using melt-out or wash-out materials.

Vacuum Assisted Resin Infusion [VARI] Process

This is done on a one-sided mold, with a vacuum bag on other side. Resin is drawn into the preform with vacuum. A high-flow media can be placed over the preform so that resin quickly spans large parts. The bagged side has a rougher surface than the mold side after cure. Mechanical properties are typically lower than with an autoclave pressure cure or with matched mold RTM. Parts can be up to 10s of feet in size.


Resin Film Infusion [RFI] Process

This is a variation of VARI, using a one-sided mold and a vacuum bag on other side. A solid resin film is placed on the mold, then covered with the preform and a vacuum bag. As this assembly is heated, the resin melts and flows into the preform under vacuum pressure. This process can also be done in an autoclave for additional compaction and driving pressure. As with prepreg and VARI, the bagged side has a rougher surface than the mold side after cure. Parts can be to 10s of feet in size.
Vacuum bag Resin melts and flows Can have very thick preforms Solid resin film Mold

RTM Injection Equipment

For VARI processing an open container will suffice, since resin is drawn in with a vacuum pump. For injection into a matched mold, a pressurized paint pot can be used. Positive displacement pumps enable computerized process control and recording. Meter-mix machines can be used with dual component resins. Most resins need to be heated to reduce viscosity, so heated chambers and delivery hoses are available.


Compression Molding Processes

Prepreg materials can be cured in a matched mold as in RTM, giving good surface finish throughout [as opposed to bag methods such as autoclave or VARI]. Maximum size is governed by press capacity, typically up to several feet. Vacuum is typically not needed. Proper sequencing of pressure during the heat cycle is critical to making void-free parts with proper fiber alignment. Typical parts are stator vanes.


Filament Winding Processes

This uses a device similar to a lathe. A revolving mandrel is covered with fibers kept under tension. It can be done using inline wetout, prepreg, or dry fiber followed by an RTM cure. Curing is normally in an oven. External cauls or shrink wrap film can be used for compaction. Typical parts are pressure tanks and rocket bodies. Since fibers are kept under tension, the cross-section can not have concave areas or the fibers will bridge. They must either lay down in geodesic patterns normal to the local contour, or extra mechanical means such as pins or friction must be used to prevent slipping. These factors must be observed in the design phase. The fiber angle can range from 0 [with appropriate restraints at the ends] to 90 degrees to the rotation axis. Large spools of fiber can be used, as in weaving. Shapes are limited to the number of controlled axes of the machine; slightly tapered straight parts such as truss tubes can be made on a 2-axis machine, whereas curved parts with closed ends may require 5 axes. Length and diameter can range up to 10s of feet. Parts have been made over 100 long with over 1 wall thickness.


Automated Fiber Placement Processes

Automated Fiber Placement [AFP] takes filament winding a step further. It uses prepreg fibers placed onto a contoured mold with a multi-axis head. Fibers are stabilized by the resin tackiness and contact rollers. Labor content is reduced and speed increases compared to hand layup. Typical parts are fuselage and nacelle skins. The size can be 10s of feet on a side. Both the mold and the fiber placement head are in motion. Individual fibers can be cut and restarted to cover any shape at any angle. As opposed to filament winding, concave features are permissible. Parts are vacuum bagged and cured in an autoclave. See videos: http://www.automateddynamics.com/video_library.php


Robotic Ply Layup

Special machines have been developed to deposit prepreg fabric. They can lay fabric on a mold and trim the edge. They are used for mildly contoured shapes such as wing skins.

A variation is to use a pick and place robot to stack pre-cut plies on a mold.

Broetje pick and place robot


Tube Rolling Table

Prepreg is rolled onto a mandrel and cured in an autoclave, or shrink wrapped for an oven cure. Mandrels must be straight and circular, but can be tapered or stepped. Tables typically are designed for parts up to 10 length and up to 6 diameter. Typical parts are truss tubes.



Heated pressure vessels are normally used to cure prepreg materials. They can be 10s of feet in diameter and length. One-sided molds are normally used, and several parts that have the same resin can be cured together. Resin Film Infusion into dry preforms has been demonstrated on large parts having translaminar reinforcement.


Heated Press

Used for compression molding and RTM. Heat is supplied by electric cal rods or an oil system. Presses typically have one axis of motion for slightly contoured parts, but custom presses have been built with multiple axes.



Ovens can be 10s of feet in length, width and height. They may have a rotisserie for filament wound parts, to avoid resin pooling. They are used for heating bolted RTM molds or vacuum-bagged VARI molds. Heating can be electric, gas or oil. The floors may need to withstand multi-ton molds.


Inspection Methods, In-Process and Post-Cure

This is a dynamic, rapidly evolving area that entails a variety of physical principles. In-process checks are done to verify proper ply sequence, ply angle, and ply edge location. Post-cure inspections check for non-desirable items such as wrinkles, voids, delaminations, and embedded foreign objects. In some methods the structure is passive, with defects creating a disturbance to an applied signal. In others the structure is mildly disturbed with heat or a mechanical load, and the surface is scanned for indications that print through.

Sonatest Wheelprobe Acousticam



The tool bits, feeds, speeds and coolants used to machine composites are specific to the matrix and fiber combination. Excessive heating causes polymeric resins to decompose. Improper cutting tools can pull fibers out of the resin locally. Lasers and waterjets are used, especially on ceramic matrix composites where the part is made out of similar materials as the cutting tools themselves. Trim & Drill Fixture Residual stresses locked into the part during cure can cause parts to deform or delaminate during machining.


Bonding Fixture

Custom-designed fixtures are used to hold parts accurately and maintain bondline thickness despite thermal expansion effects. They can be self-heated or used in an oven. For quality control they are instrumented with thermocouples.


Composite Manufacturing Related Companies


Finished Part Manufacturers

This is a partial list of aerospace manufacturers by process type. For a more extensive list see sources such as the annual Composites World Sourcebook [www.compositesworld.com/].
Manual Layup / RTM

V Systems ITT Integrated Structures [ex Fiber Innovations] AAR Composites Albany Engineered Composites GKN-CT/AL/St Louis Cobham [ex Sparta] North Coast GKN-CT/AL/St Louis CTL Aerospace CHI Matrix Cobham [ex Sparta]

Web site
www.vsc-inc.com www.defense.itt.com www.aarcorp.com/composites www.albint.com/aec www.gknaerospace.com www.composites.sparta.com www.northcoastcomposites.com www.gknaerospace.com www.ctlaerospace.com www.chi-covina.com www.matrixcorp.com www.composites.sparta.com 53

Manual Lauyp / Compression Mold

Finished Part Manufacturers

Manual Layup/ Autoclave Mold

Spirit Aerosystems GKN-AL ITT Integrated Structures Vermont Composites V Systems Hexcel Kaman Matrix Cobham [ex Sparta] Tighitco Lincoln Kazak Vought ATK Hitco www.spiritaerosystems.com www.gknaerospace.com www.defense.itt.com www.vtcomposites.com www.vsc-inc.com www.hexcel.com www.kamanaero.com www.matrixcorp.com www.composites.sparta.com http://www.tighitco.com/ www.lincolncomposites.com www.kazakcomposites.com www.voughtaircraft.com www.atk.com www.hitco.com 54

Filament Winding Pultrusion Automated Tow Placement/ Autoclave Mold

Finished Part Manufacturing Technology Providers

This is a partial list of equipment manufacturers by equipment type. For a more extensive list see sources such as the annual Composites World Sourcebook [www.compositesworld.com/]. Method
Compression Molding Press

Equipment Maker
Wabash Pacific Press Technical Machine Products
Tarrico American Autoclave ASC Process Systems

www.wabashmpi.com www.pacific-press.com www.techmach.com

www.tarrico.com www.americanautoclave.com www.aschome.com


Automated Fiber Placement Machine

MAG Cincinnati Ingersoll Automated Dynamics Electroimpact Accudyne

www.mag-ias.com www.ingersoll.com www.automateddynamics.com www.electroimpact.com www.accudyne.com


Finished Part Manufacturing Technology Providers

Filament Winder Oven Robotic Ply Layup

Equipment Maker
Entec McClean Anderson Wisconsin Grieve Composite Systems Diaphorm www.entec.com www.mccleananderson.com www.wisoven.com www.grievecorp.com www.compositemfg.com www.diaphorm.com


Ancillary Manufacturing Methods

This is a partial list of equipment makers by equipment type. For a more extensive list see sources such as the annual Composites World Sourcebook [www.compositesworld.com/]. Equipment Makers
Ply Projection Virtek LAP Laser Anaglyph Laser Projection Technologies Assembly Guidance Systems Gerber American GFM Eastman www.virtek.ca www.lap-laser.com www.anaglyph.co.uk www.lptcorp.com www.assemblyguide.com www.gerbertechnology.com www.agfm.com www.eastmancuts.com

Ply Cutters

RTM Injectors
Non-contact Dimensional Measurement

Radius Graco/Liquid Control

Stienbichler Creaform Twin Coast

www.radiusengineering.com www.graco.com
www.steinbichler.de www.creaform3d.com www.twincoastmetrology.com


Inspection Methods

Equipment Makers
Laminate NDI Physical Acoustics - Acoustic Emmission Imperium - Digital Acoustic Video A2 - Exoscan handheld FTIR Evisive - Microwave Scanning LSP Technologies - Laser Bond Inspection Photo Emission Tech - UV Surface Excitation Advanced Structural Imaging - Computer-Aided Tap Test Boeing - Mobile Automated Ultrasonic Scanner [MAUS] Digiray - Motionless Laminography X-Ray Steinbichler - Laser Shearography www.mistrasgroup.com www.imperiuminc.com www.a2technologies.net www.evisive.com www.lsptechnologies.com www.photoemission.com www.asi-nde.com www.boeing.com www.digiray.com www.steinbichler.de


Inspection Methods

Equipment Makers
Laminate NDI Laser Technology - Laser Shearography Thermal Wave Imaging - Pulsed Thermography Wichitech - Electronic Digital Tap Hammer Quality Material Inspection - Air-coupled Ultrasound Honeywell International - Structural Anomaly Mapping System [SAM], acoustic/laser Lockheed - Laser Ultrasonic Technology PaR Systems - Laser Ultrasonic Technology iPhoton - Laser Ultrasonic Technology Mitsui Engineering - Woodpecker automated tap tester Sonatest - Ultrasonic wheel probe array www.laserndt.com www.thermalwave.com www.wichitech.com www.qmi-inc.com www.honeywell.com www.lockheedmartin.com www.par.com www.iphoton.com www.mes.co.jp www.sonatest.com


Precursor Manufacturing Technology Providers

This is a partial list of manufacturers by material type. For a more extensive list see sources such as the annual Composites World Sourcebook [www.compositesworld.com/].

Equipment Makers
Uniweave, Dry & Prepreg Plain & Satin Weave, Dry & Prepreg Western Advanced Engineering numerous

Equipment Users
Hexcel, Cytec, Nelcote, APCM, YLA Textile Products Inc, Hexcel

Braid, Dry
Non Crimp Fabrics Filament Wind 3D Weave Stitched Fabrics, Dry Z-pins, Prepreg

Wardwell, Steeger, Hacoba, Herzog

Liba, Malimo, Mayer Entec, McClean Anderson 3TEX Puritan Albany Techniweave

ITT, A&P, Bally Ribbon, Albany Techniweave, Fabric Development

Saertex Lincoln 3TEX, Bally, Fabric Development, TEAM, Albany Techniweave Boeing 60

Issues With Manufacturing Processes

Ply Layup & Forming Part Trimming Nondestructive Evaluation Laminate integrity Cure state Ply Angle Verification, Post-Cure Physics-Based Process Simulations RTM avoid dry spots, resin racetracking, local exotherm Compression Molding avoid horsetails expelled from mold Autoclave Flow ensure thermal uniformity with an arbitrary loading of parts Mold Design for In-tolerance Parts

Need automation; constitutes large portion of part fabrication labor. Labor content and accuracy can be improved by multiaxis CNC. Need a nondestructive method to verify ply angles and ply boundaries. Need NDI instruments that can reach into tight spaces. Need to map defects into 3D CAD files. Need software to be more user-friendly for front-line engineers. Need to quantify material processing parameters accurately.

Use physics-based design tool to account for warping [see Convergent Manufacturing Technologies, Inc]. Need to quantify material parameters accurately.


Issues With Manufacturing Processes

Molecular Sensors For Process Control. fiber optic dielectric

Better control than a canned time/temperature profile. Need user-friendly systems to install in production molds. Need accurate material characterization. Need affordable systems. Avoid manual data logging. RFID is being applied to insure that material is used on time. Reduce energy consumption and capital expense of pressure vessel. Need materials designed for vacuum-only cure cycles. Resins typically need multi-hour cure cycles. This requires multiple molds and curing systems for highrate production. High viscosity, short pot life Advanced cure cycles sum up the viscosity dips Port configuration thru-thickness flow Combination - sequential porting

Prepreg Perishability Out-of-Autoclave Curing

Resin Cure Time

RTM with Intractable Resins


Emerging Methods for Composite Manufacturing


Emerging Manufacturing Technology

Roctool Inc http://www.roctool.com/ Quickstep Inc http://www.quickstep.com.au/what-isquickstep 2PHASE Inc http://www.2phasetech.com/ Electron Beam Curing www.ebeamservices.com www.acsion.com 3D Shape Weaving [Shape3 Inc] http://www.shape3.com/ P4 Process http://www.compositecenter.org/index.php/r apid-fiber-preform.html Out-Of-Autoclave processes http://www.advancedcomposites.co.uk/PSG_Electronic_Files/A erospace_PSG_Files/outofautoclave.html Rapid heating by an array of induction heads. Applies heat and pressure by liquid instead of gas for quicker heat transfer. Reconfigurable mold surface for rapid prototyping or repairs. Quick cure without thermal effects. Need radiation shielding and resins designed for this process Seamless net-shape preforms; no cut fibers. Discontinuous fibers applied onto molds in controlled patterns to avoid manual ply layup. Prepreg materials are being developed to enable curing and acceptable properties without the capital investment for an autoclave. 64


Induction heating is used to selectively heat the mold for rapid cycling and low energy use compared to conventional heating. This is used for RTM with dry preforms and compression molding with prepregs. Size: custom-designed.


Quickstep Molding System

Controls This is a self-contained molding system with a rapid heatup/cooldown system. Molds float in a liquid media, so molds require less stiffness than in other cure processes. It can be used for bagging processes such as autoclave/prepreg, VARI and RFI. Size: up to 20 sq yd area.

Tanks for liquid pressure and heating media



Reconfigurable Mold, 2Phase, Inc

This is a reconfigurable mold that uses a liquid/particle media contained by a membrane that solidifies against a master shape. The media can be re-liquified and re-solidified, and can potentially be sculpted to net shape with a CNC machine. Molds up to several feet on a side by 2 feet deep have been delivered.


Net-Shape Weaving

Net shape contoured weaving has been demonstrated by Shape3, but has not been in high rate production. To cure the final composite a process such as VARI would be used. http://shape3.com/


Electron Beam Curing

Composites are cured without heat in a radiation-shielded accelerator. The beam is scanned over the entire part. Only resins designed for e-beam cure can be used. Molds can be made from wood or rigid foam. see www.acsion.com


Discontinuous Fiber Preforming, P4 Process


Chopped, tackified fiber is sprayed onto a porous vacuum form with a CNC robot. The preform then goes into an RTM mold for resin injection and cure. This reduces labor content and increases deposition speed compared to hand layup. Somewhat lower mechanical properties result than with continuous fibers.

Vacuum mold


Composite Manufacturing Process Design and Modeling Software Solutions


Composite Processing: Steps & Simulations

Simulation tools are becoming available to assist manufacturing engineers.
Orient Fibers draping tow placement nesting geometry & motion Heat Resin reaction kinetics thermal & chemical eq's Resin Flow reaction kinetics heat flow viscosity kinetics fiber compaction geometry, coupled diff e's, molecular mobility sensing Resin Cure reaction kinetics Heat flow CTE build Tg build modulus build resin bulk shrinkage geometry, coupled diff e's

Mix Resin
reaction kinetics chemical eq's

Raw Materials

COTS Software Into Service

Design intent achieved

Machining remove material relieve stress residual deformation geometry, coupled diff e's remove constraints relieve stress residual deformation geometry, coupled diff e's

Cooldown residual stress buildup geometry, coupled diff e's


CAD Tools

Not all CAD tools can easily handle composite ply information. Here are some that do:

NX [formerly UG] CATIA
Has fabric draping features and micromechanics calculator. Dassault product, has fabric draping, integration between design/analysis/ manufacturing.

Web Site



Sister product is Pro Mechanica FEA.



Structural Finite Element Analysis Software

General purpose, has composite elements General purpose, has composite elements General purpose, has composite elements. Affiliated with Dassault/CATIA. Good for nonlinear materials Sister product of Pro-E, has composite laminate features Impact & crash simulation General purpose, has composite elements Specialized package for repairs Has composite laminate features

Web Site
www.ansys.com www.mscsoftware.com www.plm.automation.siemens.com www.simulia.com/products/abaqus_fea

MARC Pro-E/ Mechanica LS-DYNA Lusas ARPPAS StressCheck

www.mscsoftware.com/products/marc.cfm ?Q=131&Z=396&Y=400 www.ptc.com/products/proengineer/advan ced-mechanica www.lstc.com/lsdyna.htm www.lusas.com/products/composite http://www.fea-llc.com/ www.esrd.com 74

CAD & FEA Translators

Due to the large number of software packages and vendors on the market, there is an industry issue of file compatibility and interoperability. Supply chain companies frequently encounter errors when converting surface and mesh data from customers, needing time-consuming repairs before proceeding with the value-added tasks at hand. Tools exist to ease file translations between CAD and FEA formats. Some are listed here:
Features Altair - Hypermesh Elysium - CADdoctor Anark CAD defeaturing and repair, mesh generation CAD defeaturing and repair convert and transform 3D CAD and related product information Web Site http://www.altairhyperworks.co m/Product,7,HyperMesh.aspx http://www.elysiuminc.com/ http://www.anark.com/


Examples of Mold Flow Simulation

Vacuum Infusion

How much time will it take to fill?

Will gravity affect the fill process?

Matched Mold Injection Where should the runners be placed?

How much pressure will it take to fill?


Finite Element Based Process Simulation Tools

Physics-based models can be applied to arbitrary shapes. Proper simulation requires that the processing properties of the materials be quantified in the code. Type
RTM Flow PAM-RTM LIMS Resin flow, fabric draping, reacting resin, transient heating. Resin flow www.esi-group.com/products/compositesplastics/pam-rtm www.ccm.udel.edu/Pubs/techbriefs/LIMS.pdf


Web Site


Resin flow


Composite Cure Springback COMPRO Plug-in to ABAQUS and MARC, calculates residual stresses and springback due to resin cure. Point solutions for resin cure can be obtained using their Raven package. www.convergent.ca/products/compro%203d/ overview.html


Example of Springback Simulation

Composite resins shrink much more than the fibers when curing. Thermal expansion of some mold materials is much different than the composite. When a simple 0/90 ply layup is molded on a flat plate, the cured part springs into a curved shape. This behavior can require remachining the mold after the first part is made and measured.

90 ply 0 ply Flat mold

Simulations can be done to account for this; to design the mold surface properly in the first place.

Fabric Draping and Flat Patterns

A unique feature of composite fiber plies is that they shear and skew as they are placed onto a contoured mold. Since fiber angles drastically affect mechanical and processing properties, both the designer and the manufacturer need to specify and control this behavior. The flat cutting patterns depend on the draping behavior. Software packages exist to plan the plies correctly.

Fibers at B are highly skewed on the mold

B A A Flat Pattern

Draped on Hemisphere

Process Simulation Software Tools

Geometry-based tools can be applied to neutral CAD surfaces and FE meshes. Type
Fabric Draping and Flat Patterns Fibersim Plug-in to NX, CATIA, Pro-E. Stand-alone CAD/FEA interface for composite plies. Plug-in to CATIA/ABAQUS. www.vistagy.com www.anaglyph.co.uk www.simulayt.com


Web Site

Laminate Tools


Part of PAM-RTM.

www.esigroup.com/products/compositesplastics/pam-rtm www.interprot.com/ www.mscsoftware.com

Interactive Drape Patran/Laminate Modeler

Soup to Nuts ITOOL

Interactive, inexpensive fabric draping simulator. Has fabric draping function.

European effort to model fabric unit cells, fabric draping, RTM flow and structural response.

www.itool.eu 80

Process Simulation Software Tools

Filament Winding

Models tensioned fibers on a rotating mandrel. Models tensioned fibers on a rotating mandrel. Can model various machines. Can model various machines.

Web Site
www.entec.com/ www.material.be/filament-windingsoftware www.cgtech.com www.compositepro.com/Fipes.html

Auto Tape Laying, Auto Fiber Placement Vericut Fiber Placement Expert System ACES

By MAG Cincinnati for their machines.



Laminate Property Calculation

Composite Pro
Calculator to determine stiffness properties of laminates, and structural response of simple shapes.
Calculator to determine stiffness properties of laminates. Will be adding textile composites. Calculator to determine stiffness properties of textile composites. Determine stiffness properties of textile composites Calculator to determine stiffness properties of laminates, and structural response of simple shapes. Calculator to determine stiffness properties of laminates

Web Site



Texcad, mmTexlam ITOOL Hypersizer

K. Shivakumar [kunigal@ncat.edu] www.itool.eu www.hypersizer.com


www.esigroup.com/products/compositesplastics/sysply 82

Composite Materials Resource Centers

Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology

University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials University of Dayton Research Institute

www.ccm.udel.edu www.udri.udayton.edu

Air Force Research Lab, Materials Directorate

NASA, Langley & Glenn Research Centers National Composite Center Composites Manufacturing Technology Center National Institute for Aviation Research

www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/home/index www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/home/index www.compositecenter.org http://cmtc.scra.org/about_cmtc.shtml www.niar.wichita.edu/researchlabs/comp_ov erview.asp

National Center for Manufacturing Sciences

Composites Manufacturing Technology Center



Composite Materials Associations & Publications

Composites World Magazine Covers a wide range of design/analysis/manufacturing topics. Publishes annual supplier listing. www.compositesworld. com/

Journal of Composite Materials

American Society for Metals Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering Society of Manufacturing Engineers/Composites Group Consortium for Improving/Integrating Advanced Composites Processes (CIACP) American Society for Composites

Peer-reviewed academic journal. http://jcm.sagepub.com

Publishes detailed handbooks on various materials. For composites see ASM Handbook Volume 21. Conducts annual conferences on composite properties, design and fabrication. Conducts annual conferences on tooling and manufacturing Brings together design and manufacturing technologies. Conducts regional conferences. Promotes the exploitation of the unique properties of composite materials in emerging applications. asmcommunity.asminte rnational.org/portal/site/ www/ www.sampe.org


www.agfm.com/Initiativ es/CIACP.htm