SBIR Phase I: Autoclave Equivalent Composites Via In-Situ Pressurization
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project seeks to develop materials and manufacturing processes that enable aerospace composite materials to be produced without an autoclave. To ensure the best material quality and reliability, aerospace composites are processed inside autoclaves that combine heat and pressure to fully bond multi-layered composites. Autoclaves that can accommodate aircraft fuselages and wings now exist. The capital costs, labor costs, and manufacturing times associated with autoclave processing are significant but are a necessary evil to ensure composite quality. A large opportunity exists for Out Of Autoclave (OOA) technology to reduce costs and streamline composite manufacturing operations. The current OOA focus of industry is to develop new resin/fabric systems that can be processed OOA but still yield suitable performance. A better approach to achieve broad-based OOA manufacturing is to compatibilize existing resin/fabric systems. This goal may be achieved through a combination of new tooling materials and manufacturing processes that can self-pressurize and consolidate composites. The results of the Phase I effort will demonstrate a true OOA technique that allows autoclave equivalent composite properties to be achieved in any existing resin/fabric system without the use of autoclave. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to provide the composites industry with an OOA solution that is resin independent. The use of advanced fiber reinforced composites in aircraft has become a necessity to achieve higher performance and greater fuel efficiencies. Boeing's 787 and Airbus' A350 are two such aircraft that exemplify the push to increase composite content above 50% by weight. A large opportunity exists for OOA technology to reduce costs and streamline composite manufacturing operations. The OOA technology developed in Phase I will have a large impact on the composites industry through cost reduction and manufacturing efficiency gains. It will allow a broader manufacturing base to produce autoclave-like parts. Society will see benefits through the broader use of fuel-efficient composites in air- and land-based vehicles. This effort will also foster collaboration between small business and large aerospace manufacturers as well as offer undergraduate and high school students an opportunity to work on the project.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Advanced Ceramics Manufacturing
7800-A South Nogales Highway Tucson, AZ 85706-9645
Number of Employees: