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Towards Industrialization of Composites Manufacturing

Towards Industrialization of Composites Manufacturing

A transformation has begun in commercial aerospace and will require rapid acceleration as the urban air mobility (UAM) market matures. SAMPE North America is proactively addressing this challenge by convening composites stakeholders from aerospace, automotive, wind power, electronics, and more, to exchange perspectives, develop new networks and formulate business solutions. Please join us from January 26-27, 2022 in beautiful and sunny Huntington Beach, California at the first in a series of Materials Innovation & Advanced Leadership Forums.  

For the past several decades the manufacturing paradigm governing fabrication of high-value, high-performance composite aerostructures has been focused on the production of high-quality parts at relatively low rates. Pre-pregged carbon fiber fabrics and tapes, hand-laid and then autoclave cured have dominated. Safety requirements stipulated 100% inspection of every part for quality assurance prior to customer delivery. Recent advances in automated fiber and tape placement technologies injected automation capabilities into aerocomposites manufacturing that enabled unprecedented expansion of composites use in primary structures on the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 widebody aircraft.

Today, fabrication of aerocomposites is at or near a tipping point that will lead to industrialization of composites manufacturing.

Forces driving this change are next-generation commercial aerospace manufacturing and urban air mobility. There will be a need to produce aerocomposites at high volumes and that will require significant evolution of materials and process capability to reduce waste, get out of the autoclave, integrate high-capability automation, implement in-situ inspection, and enable full digital twinning.

The nascent Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market will force incumbent aerocomposites manufacturing to be abandoned in favor of out-of-autoclave, highly automated, low-waste, low-touch materials and processes (M&P), with a strong inclination toward sustainability and recyclability. This anticipated evolution has given rise to the phrase “aerospace quality at automotive quantity.”

As we are aware, M&P principles that govern composites manufacturing in automotive, wind power, electronics, etc., differ from the M&P principles that govern composites manufacturing in aerospace. A current challenge is that there are few fabricators in the composites industry that have knowledge of and experience with the automotive manufacturing supply chain. SAMPE North America’s leadership forum series will address this gap and convene an expert community from January 26-27, 2022 in Huntington Beach, California – join us!