Highlights from 2017 Dept. of Defense Advanced Composite Maintainers meeting

Leaders from military and private industry present and discuss latest developments and future directions for composite structures design, maintenance, repair and sustainability.

The 2017 US Department of Defense (DoD) Advanced Composite Maintainers Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) was held Aug 22-24 at the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The annual event focuses on the unique challenges of composite materials, repairs, tooling, processing, storage, and facilities in military environments. It brings together maintainers, suppliers, engineers, scientists, and logistics personnel in the area of composites maintenance and repair from multiple branches of the US Government, industry, and academia.

Speaker highlights include:

  • Robert Kent, head of industry relations for Temple Allen Industries (TAI, Rockville, MD, US) discussed Private Sector Ergonomic Sanding Tool Development, including TAI’s wing-top and EMMA sanding systems used by Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman and many other commercial and military facilities.
  • Dr. Steven Shepard, president of Thermal Wave Imaging Inc. (Ferndale, MI, US) gave a presentation on Large Standoff Thermography for the Inspection of Large Scale Composite Structures. This technology uses lights to heat a composite wing skin, fuselage, etc. several degrees above ambient temperature and then records how the surface cools using infrared cameras in order to gaps, flaws, damage, etc. which is often invisible to the naked eye.
  • The keynote from Mark Smallwood, director of the United States Air Force (USAF) Advanced Composites/Nondestructive Inspection/Corrosion for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OH) helped attendees understand how much money is spent on the maintenance of DOD assets (jets, ships, tanks, etc.) and how much can be saved if technologies are developed and widely implemented that make composites maintenance more efficient.
  • This theme was echoed in the second keynote by Colonel Jon Eberlan, USAF Commander, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group, which focused on maintenance efforts for the composites-intensive F-22 and F-35 jet aircraft.
  • Leigh Sargent, president of Applied Composites Engineering (Indianapolis, IN, US) gave an interesting presentation about the process of reverse engineering and then creating replacement parts out of composites for legacy components that are no longer practical to replace with metal parts.

Other topics included:

  • Advanced integrated composite repair
  • Additive manufacturing: tooling for composites
  • Composite repair materials characterization and qualification guidelines for aircraft design and certification
  • Optical metrology in advanced composites maintenance
  • Qualification of non-hazardous solvents to clean composite aircraft components
  • Heat damage assessment
  • Recent army composite sustainment projects

The event also included a tour of the F16 Laser Depaint hangar and F-16 Radome Laser Depaint Lab and meetings by an array of TIM working groups which will have ongoing activity in future including Maintenance-Supply Integration (point of contact: Ken Patterson), Design for Supportability (point of contact: David Stone) and a best practices/body of knowledge website under development (POC David Motley).

For more information go to https://www.ncms.org/events/2017-composite-maintainers-technical-interchange-meeting/ .