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Composite tool for winglet manufacturing

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WIN-TOOL (Composite tool for winglet manufacturing)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-03-31

The WIN-TOOL project analysed the specifications and requirements provided by the Topic Manager in the manufacturing of the winglet and its structural sub elements, namely leading edge, trailing edge/tab, tip and torsion box, and propose an innovative, reliable, robust, quality driven and cost effective manufacturing solution. The solution involves the most suitable and innovative tooling concepts for out-of- autoclave processing, including moulding and minor trimming for the production of the winglet according to the set of drawings.
The WIN-TOOL project provided:
1. Design of a prototype tooling with the following key features: a) Full functionality for the processing in fewer steps of the integrated winglet design, b) Lightweight with long service life and flexibility, c) Built-in quality assurance tools to guarantee reliable processing of the selected material systems according to technical specifications, d) Tooling documentation for accurate dimensioning, modification protocols and health check during the tool service life.
2. Manufacturing of the prototype tooling with suitable standards to meet the tool design and the production specifications of a composite winglet
3. Verification of the tooling operation and advanced features which reduce processing cost and energy while contributing to the optimised and quality manufacturing of winglets
4. Capability to support the prototype tooling operation at the Topic Manager’s premises
In order to materialise this outcome the WIN-TOOL Consortium introduced, adapted and validated a set of innovative technologies covering materials, sensors, models, tools and devices. All these technologies were physically integrated on the prototype tooling, which achieved the required qualities in manufacturing
The consortium delivered all required tooling to the Topic Manager to the required acceptance criteria. This included the innovative RTM tooling with integrated heating and control systems to provide out-of-autoclave manufacturing of the Winglet Tab, which was commissioned at the Topic Manager facilities. The commissioning process discovered some damage occurred during shipping which necessitated a repair and minor redesign to improve the robustness of the electrical connections within the tooling.

Manufacturing trials conducted by the Topic Manager have resulted in good parts from the tooling provided, though delays in the programme have prevented a full quantification of the energy savings achieved using the out-of-autoclave process.

ECN’s work establishing the injection strategy and flow modelling within the design of the RTM tool has been integrated into their GeMage Flow 3D tool to improve the speed and accuracy of the modelling. The new, improved tool is currently part of a benchmarking exercise on permeability measurement against existing commercial and academic codes which is due to be reported at ECCM19, Nantes, France in June 2020 and FPCM15 in West Lafayette, USA, in July 2020.

The RTM tool design allowed Loiretech to validate the performance of two innovations in production-prototype tooling for aerospace standard components; electrical heating of tooling and thermal concrete reinforcement of composite tool skins. The issues identified during the tool manufacturing and commissioning phases have allowed Loiretech to improve future design and manufacturing processes to offer these solutions to commercial customers.

ADVISE have developed a smart control system comprising of heater management, on-line cure monitoring and reporting of key part quality parameters. This includes a kinetic model of the resin to act as a comparator and baseline reference for the system to ensure that the part is fully cured each time. This serves to reduce costs and energy consumption by ensuring that each part through the process meets the required cure parameters.
The main innovation is in the design and fabrication of the tab RTM curing tool, implementing a novel thermal management system.

The system takes into account material models for the infusion, cure and post cure segments of production, coupled with dielectric signals (where appropriate) and input from thermocouples in the tool. The validation of the part cure-state during the process minimises the energy required to reach a fully cured part, reduces the scrap costs associated with incomplete curing of parts and provides process quality documentation to ensure aerospace quality traceability of the manufacturing process.

Wider adoption of this type of in-process monitoring of parts would significantly reduce the energy consumption of composite part manufacture, both in and out of autoclaves. This would enable wider adoption of lightweight structures and reduce the environmental impact of their production.

This development coupled with Loiretech's established reputation for production of very large tooling could lead to integrated, lightweight composite tools that form very large, flexible tooling for aerospace and power composites production.
Leading Edge Inboard Tool
Inboard Torsion Box Tool in use
Novel RTM Tool undergoing acceptance trials at Loiretech