Alliant Techsystems (ATK, Minneapolis, Minn.) announced on July 14 the development of a patented automated stiffener forming machine (ASFM) that provides automation technology for the manufacture of composite stiffeners. A technology built for the construction of next-generation commercial aircraft, ATK's patented ASFM reportedly provides lower cost, higher quality stiffeners, with superior compaction and repeatability compared to those produced using the previous industry-standard, hand lay-up process.
Providing a linear and radial option, the ATK ASFM can fabricate stringers and the frames, which make up the skeleton of a commercial aircraft fuselage shell, at production rates of nearly 10 times that of the traditional lay-up process.
ATK, a developer of advanced fiber placement technology, is also advancing its fiber placement capability to meet the expanding composite aerostructures market for commercial and military applications. ATK is executing a focused development effort to provide a near-term doubling of throughput on individual fiber placement machines and is targeting a long-term improvement factor of 10. These increases in production will provide for significant cost savings. When combined with ATK's industry-leading fiber placement capacity, these advances in production, says the company, will allow ATK to meet the increasing commercial and military demand. ATK currently has 10 large format fiber placement machines in place, and plans to install two more in the next 18 months.