HITCO receives contract for non-autoclave composites manufacturing

HITCO will fabricate three large non-autoclave composite spars using prepreg composite materials supplied by Cytec Engineered Materials.

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HITCO Carbon Composites (Los Angeles, Calif., USA), a subsidiary of SGL Group – The Carbon Company – announced on July 19 that it has received a contract from The Boeing Co. (Chicago, Ill., USA) to continue advancing the technology and processes for non-autoclave manufacturing of composite structures.

Specifically, HITCO will fabricate three large composite spars that do not need to be cured by an autoclave. HITCO will manufacture the spars using prepreg composite materials supplied by Cytec Engineered Materials (Tempe, Ariz., USA). All three spars will use hot drape forming as part of the manufacturing process, as well as a combination of automated tape layup and hand layup fabrication.

HITCO received the contract from Boeing Research & Technology (BR&T), the company's advanced central research, technology and innovation organization. The effort is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/Boeing co-funded, Air Force-directed Non-Autoclave (Prepreg) Manufacturing Technology Program.

“We have a long cooperation with The Boeing Company and are proud to continue working closely with the corporation to advance the manufacturing processes for building composite structures using non-autoclave fabrication processes and techniques,” said Anthony Lawson, HITCO president. “Improvements in the quality and consistency of composite structures using automated fabrication techniques and non-autoclave processing will assist our customers in achieving performance and cost targets while expanding the use of composites.”

As the contract is currently structured, HITCO expects to complete the Statement of Work for this phase of the manufacturing technology program by the end of 2010. HITCO anticipates implementing the improved techniques and processes for next-generation aircraft composite structures programs.