Large Format Additively Manufactured Tooling for Out-of-Autoclave Aerospace Composites
The aerospace composites industry is plagued with high costs and long lead times for tooling, driving up part costs and delaying design cycles in new production. Tooling also complicates sustainment efforts for the Air Force’s legacy aircraft. Large format additive manufacturing has the potential to address both issues. Printed thermoplastic tools in excess of 0.5 square meters in size will be presented that are capable of curing aerospace-quality epoxy and bismaleimide composites at lower cost and with much quicker lead times compared with conventional tooling. 3D-printable, high-temperature thermoplastics and reinforcing fibers will be investigated to achieve the right balance of strength, dimensional stability, and life from the tooling. A general approach for optimization of print parameters to achieve a high-quality tool will be explored. The ability of these additively manufactured tools to withstand autoclave cures as well as out-of-autoclave processes (some of which will require the tooling to support 7 kg/sq m (100 psi) single-side loading) will be demonstrated. The Air Force’s Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) platform is especially suited for this technology and will be used as a demonstrator for this work.
Author: Scott R. Huelskamp and Tim Osborn, Ph.D
Conference: SAMPE Seattle 2017