Composite wings are easier to produce with vacuum infusion
Aircraft manufacturers have discussed using composite processes that don’t require an autoclave to speed up component production. Now, composite wings are being produced using a completely out of autoclave (OOA) process called vacuum infusion.
Why vacuum infusion speeds up composite wing production
Vacuum infusion is a process that uses a mold and vacuum bag to create composite products. First, composite materials are laid in a mold either by hand or by automated machinery. The vacuum bag is then sealed, and a pump removes the air in the bag, which creates a vacuum and compacts the dry materials together. Next, resin is pumped into the mold to impregnate the composite materials. Since the air was already removed, there is a smaller chance of air voids being created in the product, and the materials are also less likely to be impregnated with too much resin. Finally, the mold is heated to various temperatures for curing, which may take as little as 24 hours.
This process has been in use for years and has been used to create many types of products. However, some aircraft manufacturers have been considering this process to help reduce component construction time by eliminating autoclave curing. This form of curing is currently used to make the majority of aircraft components. Massive autoclaves have even been used to create fuselage and wing structures for aircrafts such as the Boeing 777X, Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 XWB.
Some aircraft manufacturers are going forward with vacuum infusion to completely eliminate the autoclave. For instance, the MS-21 aircraft under development by the Irkut Corporation uses vacuum-infused wings and wingboxes. These vacuum-infused wing structures can also be co-infused, which allows them to be created in fewer pieces. The co-infusion of wing structures also helps to reduce assembly because there are fewer pieces to assemble. Furthermore, the composite-infused wing structures require fewer mechanical fasteners, which reduces part count and speeds up assembly even further.
As vacuum-infused wing structures enter service over the next several years, aircraft manufacturers around the world will likely be paying close attention to them to see if the promise of these structures comes to fruition. If successful, vacuum infusion may well become the wave of the future in composite aircraft component manufacturing.
Composites One leads North America in composite materials distribution
If your business produces composite products using vacuum infusion or other production processes, you’ll need to ensure that you have the materials to keep these processes running. That’s where Composites One can help.
Our team can help you find all of the composite materials you need for your business. We have thousands of composite materials in our inventory for you to choose from, and our great service doesn’t stop there. Thanks to our 41 distribution centers across North America, we can help you get you the products you need locally and on time.
To find out more about all the products and services we offer, contact the team at Composites One now.
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