Self-Heating Tooling Concepts with Carbon Foam
Small Business Information
TOUCHSTONE RESEARCH LABORATORY, LTD.
The Millennium Centre, R.R. 1, Box 100B, Triadelphia, WV, 26059
R. Andrew Guth
AbstractThe Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is seeking innovative manufacturing approaches that dramatically increase production rates and reduce program costs for composite parts which are integral portions of advanced missile defense designs. Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd. has developed a novel material, CFOAMr, which is a proven structural material for composite tooling. The current CFOAM tooling has been optimized for advanced composites manufacturing in a high-temperature and pressure cure cycle that involves equipment with high capitalization costs, including autoclaves or furnaces. Tailorable electrical properties of CFOAM allow a self-heating tool that enables the new environmentally stipulated closed molding manufacturing processes to be economically viable, with quicker cycle times and a higher level of process control. One important aspect of composites fabrication is controlling the temperature of the tooling by heating the tool. CFOAM acts as a resistive heating element under controlled voltage and current and produces a revolutionary self-heating tooling. Unlike open mold technology where the tool is at ambient conditions, the heated tool presents a much more repeatable environment. Heating composite tool systems speeds the cycle time and optimizes the resin system properties. This optimization improves part surface quality, assures repeatable mechanical properties and reduces manufacturing variances.
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