Eclipse Composites Engineering, Inc. has developed a new process of composite stamping that could be an innovative solution to the growing demand for composite structures with tight tolerance and high volume. The company recently revealed a composite segmented manpack antenna built using the novel composite stamping process.
In development for many years, the product fulfilled all requirements of traditional composite products but with lesser cycle times, informed reliable sources. The carbon fiber antenna structure was cured in a hydraulic press as an out-of-oven and out-of-autoclave substitute for the traditional equipment-laden processes.
General Manager of Eclipse, Karl Hawes, said that the customers get frustrated due to the lengthy cycle times experienced in advance composites. The customers kept asking the company why it could not easily stamp-out parts like the traditional metal processes, which got the company executives thinking, he added.
Hawes further said that the company developed a fast cure process, with a lot of effort put in by the engineering staff and key suppliers, which does not compromise with the structural integrity of the product. According to Hawes, the culture to think big and challenge the traditions has been the company’s key to success and it looks to push the limits of whatever is possible.
Sources mentioned that the innovative process utilizes long-fiber reinforcements, traditionally woven fabrics like plain or twill weave, but could also be adapted into almost any reinforcement material that could be pre-pregged. At full part thickness, ply kits are dipped into an open mold and press cured to shape in the traditional metal stamping like process.
Unlike conventional short fiber compression molding, this process delivers enhanced thickness repeatability and mechanical properties with fast cycle times. This process, which has been successfully demonstrated with carbon fiber reinforcement, could also be used with glass reinforcement. The company would be showcasing this advanced hardware, and others, at the forthcoming CAMX Show in Dallas, Texas which is set to start on October 15.