Aircraft interior bins benefit from fast-heat, fast-cool tool
Airbus Industrie (Toulouse, France) wanted to cut cycle time off the production of interior storage bin doors for its A320 and A380 commercial airplanes and identified part cooling in the mold as the most likely source of potential time savings. The doors, about 1m long, are fabricated of a glass fiber prepregged with a thermoset resin matrix laid up in a closed mold. The process produces net finished parts on both sides and all edges. The planemaker turned to toolmaker Weber Manufacturing Technologies Inc. (Midland, Ontario, Canada) for help. Weber combined its nickel-vapor deposition tooling material with encapsulated heating/cooling line technology to create a rapid-heat/rapid-cool tool that cut cycle time 25 percent. The encapsulated lines are conformally integrated just below the 10-mm-thick surface of the nickel-shell tool. Nickel, because its thermal conductivity is eight times that of Invar tooling material often used in aerospace molding, can reduce the temperature of the door from 180°C/356°F to 20°C/68°F in one minute, helping cut overall cycle time for the part from 45 minutes to 30 minutes. Weber says it has achieved similar results on existing tools with copper heating/cooling lines attached to the back side of the mold.