UK supplier JR Technologies Limited (JRTL) has helped develop a more efficient way to repair the tools needed to make the Airbus A350XWB-1000 rear wing spar sections, made by GKN Aerospace.

The company says that the technology will also enable the partners to carry out repairs for the aerospace industry on-site in the future, wherever the client is based.

Composite Tooling & Engineering Solutions Ltd (CTES) and Retrac Composites Ltd CTES and Retrac required JRTL to supply eight infra-red lamps and a hot bonding controller with multiple heater mats.  These allowed engineers to control accurately the cure of the additional prepreg laminate in multiple areas at the same time and cut the curing time of the surface sealer from 18 hours to one and a half.    

The tool in question measures almost 14 m in length and weighs 2.75 tonnes.  The geometry of the tool didn’t allow for the sole use of the controller, so infra-red lamps were brought into service to apply heat locally in complex areas of the tool. Local vacuum bags were used to apply pressure in all repair areas.

Portable repair

‘The combination of the lamps and the hot bonding controller gave [the partners] the control they required for the cure cycle they needed to do a repair,’ said Paul Rogger, technology director of JRTL. ‘It was also portable, so if there’s a requirement for this sort of thing in the future, clients purchasing these items from us will be able to carry out repairs on site.’

‘We previously had no other way of getting enough heat into the job if we needed to cure anything on the surface of the tool without using either a very large oven or autoclave,’ said Liam Moloney, Director at CTES. ‘Finding an appropriately-sized autoclave or constructing an oven from scratch would have been very time-consuming and costly.  I’ve been amazed by how much time this has saved, and the accuracy in terms of controlling the temperature throughout each cure has been second to none.’  

This story is reprinted from material from JR Technologies Limited, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.