Composites Manufacturing Kits from Aerovac Salt Lake City Facility Package Major Efficiencies
For composites manufacturers with limited square footage in their factories, a quick turn rate, and a high labor rate, the opportunity for efficiency gains with custom kitting services from Aerovac is measurable. In addition to the time and cost savings—cutting manufacturing time in half and reducing materials waste by an average of 40 percent—the efficient use of space and technical manpower is substantially increased.
Aerovac’s Salt Lake City kitting facility serves all customers in North America with its custom kitting services. Aerovac works synergistically with Composites One, enabling customers who source supplies from Composites One to benefit from the value add of pre-made kits supplied by Aerovac.
Aerovac Process Materials in the custom kits include bagging films, release films, breather fabric, release fabric, and peel plies. Sealant tape is available and often packaged separately due to the effects from environmental temperature changes. Complete custom kits are also available for manufacturers that use resin infusion processes and require more extensive process materials, often the case in Marine Manufacturing.
Kitting benefits on the manufacturing floor
Smaller manufacturing facilities that traditionally store rolls of material stock on hand, sometimes by leaning material rolls against the wall, can save significant floor space. Whereas technical workers were spending time and exerting energy lugging material rolls to large tables, then unrolling and cutting out patterns, kitting eliminates this required personnel labor and increases tool turns.
With custom kits readily available, floor workers simply pull a pre-compiled kit from the stock and apply it to their tool and parts, with no cutting, waste, or waiting for material patterns to be cut on demand. For manufacturers that operate an autoclave in their facilities—an expensive asset with a high usage cost-per-hour—they can effectively increase tool turns for improved productivity and cost efficiency.
Kits to support complex patterns and industry applications
In high-demand industries like Aerospace, Wind Energy, and Marine that require a significant amount of bagging materials, kits can be especially advantageous for bag management, especially when bags can be larger than facilities are long enough to support. Aerovac uses up-to-date technology and tools, such as electric scissors and laser projection systems, to accurately cut the materials more simply than could be completed by workers on a factory floor.
For complex parts, such as a radome or a dish-shaped part, Aerovac uses pattern-cutting machines to cut bagging materials, which are then folded and kitted into a compact, lightweight package based on customers’ needs. The custom bag kits include all the necessary layers of process materials that are needed for a specific manufacturing application and can include the pleating of vacuum bags in specific locations, creating repeatability and consistency for customers. The Salt Lake City facility can also emboss material, which is used for debulking, as well as perform cold perforating and log slitting to slit breather materials down to size.
Kelly Gallagher, Aerovac Project Manager in Salt Lake City, explains, “We have different patterns for different customer requirements. Between the slitting and the perforating machines and the pattern cutting, we have a very well-rounded array of equipment that can give the customer what they want.”
Ensuring consistency and quality of composite parts is an integral benefit of using custom kitting services, with materials cut precisely to spec, reducing the risk of human error when performed in the facility. Aerovac removes the complexity from materials preparation and delivers consistent materials to the customer, making it seamless for customers to create consistent parts with high-performance capabilities.
Becoming an Aerovac kit customer
Customers may request a sample kit from Aerovac to assess the time and cost efficiency gains of kitting solutions in their own composites manufacturing processes. Once the customer provides a tool model, our technical representatives work to gain an understanding of the part configuration and the customer’s production needs, through an on-site visit as necessary. A pattern is developed, and a sample kit is sent for the customer to perform a fit test – again, with on-site assistance as needed. Patterns may be modified as needed, and once a pattern is set, it is quality-control locked so all kits can be reproduced with quality and consistency.
In the Salt Lake City operating facility, Aerovac performs conversion services in addition to kitting, which modifies stock composite processing material based on the client’s required specifications. Conversion is useful in facilities that require a large and heavy master roll in their manufacturing process yet lack the space and manpower capacity to handle the parent material.
Gallagher explains, “The conversion part of the facility will take the roll that is 60 inches wide or wider, and slit the material down to any measurements the customer requests. Along with that, we can rewind the materials to any length the customer needs. We use both razor knives for films and hot knives for fabrics and utilize a log slitter for converting breather materials. The conversion part of our factory contains machines that will modify the processed material configuration to be precisely what the customer requires.”
In addition to the assurance of product consistency, kitting can be valuable if customers change their design. Aerovac has an agile and talented team of process engineers that can work quickly to modify a pattern or design and provide a very quick turnaround on a revision.
At Composites One and Aerovac, we strive to be innovative and dependable and to deliver results for our customers. Our Technical Team offers expert knowledge of composites materials, along with the experience that comes from being the leader in providing materials management and logistics solutions for demanding markets. In Aerospace, Marine, Wind Energy and beyond, our industry-leading distribution model and Technical Team are ready to support manufacturers that are using composites to design the innovations of tomorrow.
Watch a side-by-side comparison of a layup using kitted process materials including release film, breather fabric, and pre-pleated bagging film, all pre-cut to shape vs. individual roll stock products that need to be handled and cut individually.
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