Mandrel solutions for trapped & complex geometry composites

Smart Tooling explains how its shape memory polymer material can be used as a rigid layup mandrel, go through a cure process, elevated to elastic temperature, removed and reformed for re-use.


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 In this Digital Demo, tooling and material specialist Smart Tooling (Xenia, Ohio, U.S.) reviews the fundamental properties of its shape memory polymer material, which remains rigid at and below cure temperatures, but becomes elastic at elevated temperatures. This behavior allows the material to be used to fabricate an IML layup mandrel that remains rigid during cure up to <265°F. Then, during a >300°F post-cure, the shape memory polymer becomes elastic and can be easily removed from the cured composite structure. While it is still elastic, the mandrel is inserted into a reforming tool to reset geometry and cooled back to its rigid state before re-use. This presentation reviews compatible manufacturing processes, suitable applications and provides a summary of two case histories. One case history summarizes Smart Tooling use to fabricate a complex inlet duct and includes step-by-step photos and cost savings data. The other case history focuses on the fabrication of a missile fuselage and includes a video of the mandrel being removed from the finished part.

Example of a Smart Tool that acts as a mandrel and finished composite inlet duct.Photo Credit: Smart Tooling