It’s a recipe that has stood the test of time, feeding the production lines for world leading combat aircraft like Typhoon.
We asked Phil to talk us through the baking process for producing strong, lightweight aircraft panels.
“You start with a roll of carbon fibre material. We load it onto a roller and automatically label the material to identify the part and ply number. It’s then cut to size using an automated ultrasonic knife before being placed into a kit, a collection of precisely cut carbon pieces, or should I say ‘ingredients’ for the bake.
The next step is to transfer the kit using a mould tool to a laser alignment bay. Here we use a laser projector to guide the operator in creating a sequence of carbon layers on the mould tool. A bit like layering pastry in a mould, only with a lot more precision.
In order to give the part strength, each layer is positioned at precise orientations of 0, 45, 90 and 135 degrees. This is repeated; sometimes up to 200 times for some parts until all the carbon pieces in the kit are in place.
Then you make sure there’s no air in the bake. Using vacuum suction the ‘kit’ is compacted down, taking out any excess air and volatiles ensuring the plies are formed to the shape of the mould tool, preparing it for the perfect bake.
Once it’s out of the oven, it’s time to run a few more checks on the baked (cured)component and run a test sample to ensure the part is structurally fit for purpose. Some final finishing processes including non destruct testing and spraying and that’s Typhoon airframe panels. Done”.