Out of autoclave complex wing produced

GKN Aerospace has successfully concluded a composite manufacturing and assembly research programme that used out of autoclave (OOA) processes and pre-impregnated shaped woven preformed materials.

It's hoped the programme will help transform the future manufacture and assembly of large composite aero-structure, and produce the performance gains the industry seeks in the next generation of airframes.

The programme used OOA materials to design, develop and manufacture an affordable, lightweight, blended aircraft wing box that featured integrally stiffened skins, complex contours and four different stringer shapes.

The manufacture of the parts used vacuum bag technology and low cost tooling that becomes practicable when curing outside the extreme autoclave environment. The wing box was then assembled using fastener free, impregnated joints.

Stephen Grojean, materials and process engineer at GKN Aerospace, says: "This programme addresses two of the major challenges we face - overcoming the limitations imposed by autoclave curing and proving effective fastener free, joining processes. The results we have achieved serve as a technology enabler allowing us to progress to next stage in composite wing structure and blended wing box manufacture."

Justin Cunningham

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