F-35 Lightning program adopts closed molding technology
Source | Matrix Composites
Global aerospace composite manufacturer Matrix Composites (Rockledge, Fla., U.S.) an ITT Inc. company, announced on May 27 that its closed molding technology, hot isostatic resin pressure molding (HiRPM), has been adopted into Lockheed Martin’s (Bethesda, Md., U.S.) F-35 Lightning program, and has been made the principal manufacturing process for select parts for future F-35 aircraft. The technology has already been used for select parts in the aircraft’s horizontal tail assembly.
Designed for small, intricate composite structures requiring high dimensional accuracy — like critical edges, spars and control surfaces — the HiRPM molding process enables high part-to-part dimensional repeatability, reduced manufacturing cycle time, increased production yield and reduces the need for expensive post-machining and other next-level assembly operations. Matrix Composites says its performance on the F-22 Raptor and the company’s history in composites processing were underlying factors for the company’s selection in Lockheed’s program. As a main supplier, the Matrix Composite team has also worked with Lockheed Martin to create the company’s variant of a controlled-volume-molding (CVM) process.
Fiber-reinforced composite tooling, ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) and woven fiber composites are all now the realm of 3D printing.
Innovative use of international supplier base to revolutionize aircraft manufacture.
Dr. Donald F. Adams (Wyoming Test Fixtures (Salt Lake City, Utah) discusses the methods for impact testing of composites.