San Diego Composites expands. Again.

San Diego Composites has expanded for the fourth time in its 11 years in business, moving into a new 6,500-sq-m facility.

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San Diego Composites Inc. (SDC, San Diego, Calif., USA) is on the move, in more ways than one. Currently posting >$10 million in annual sales, SDC has expanded its facilities for the fourth time in its 11-year history. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Nov. 6, 2014, hailed its move into a 6,500m2 building from its previous 3,251m2 plant, and SDC projects expanding its personnel, as well, from 40 to 200 employees in the next two years.

The company has divided its spacious building—located near the Miramar Marine Corp Air Station—into discrete work cells for engineering, with comprehensive design capabilities; research and development, prospering on annual budgets averaging nearly $100,000; ISO 17025 accredited testing facilities; clean rooms; a machine shop with 3-, 4- and 6-axis machining capability; AS9100 accredited quality assurance/material control; and production, with two 500°F/260°C ovens and one 800°F/430°C oven for out-of-autoclave processing, plus one 500°F, 150 psi/10 bar autoclave lined up as choices for part curing.

Though the focus of the employee-owned company is aerospace and defense (A&D), it has many other technology development contracts in house, says Kenneth Mercer, chief technology officer. SDC has several ongoing A&D projects involving filament-wound square pressure vessels—produced on McLean Anderson filament winders—designed for use as the protective canister when a missile is launched.

SDC is also a supplier through Lockheed for NASA’s Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, Orion, a collaborative effort between NASA and hundreds of industry experts across the country. The company built Invar tooling for Orion’s fairings—a series of hand layup carbon/epoxy protective panels for the launch abort system—scheduled for its first test on Dec. 4, 2014. These 10 ft/3m high by 8 ft/2.4m wide sacrificial panels serve as the structural fairing between the Orion’s crew module and launch abort system during launch and ascent. SDC is also a technology partner with private companies competing for crew-carrying spacecraft contracts under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (see "U.S. crew and cargo candidate takes shape with composites" at right).

The open house/ribbon-cutting ceremony featured enthusiastic talks by SDC’s president Robert Kolozs and vice president Christine Benzie, as well as Mercer, and was attended by customers, suppliers and representatives from the office of the mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer—as well as CompositesWorld.