Spirit AeroSystems has announced it has been working with Spintech Ventures, of Xenia, Ohio, to develop a new configurable tooling technology for manufacturing complex composite aircraft structures. The solution uses re-formable, reusable mandrels to form complex, highly integrated composite structures, with features that are not possible with traditional tools.
In 2005, Spirit AeroSystems began collaboration with Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) and CRG’s affiliate company, Spintech Ventures LLC, to refine and scale-up the technology. Spintech is now offering the technology under the trade name Smart Tooling. Spirit’s version of the technology, which includes enhancements to enable large, integrated, single-sided reinforced structures, is known as Inflexion.
Bill Smith, acting director of technology development at Spirit said;
The degree of integration of composite structural components has been limited to date by current tooling methods inflexion breaks through this barrier by providing tooling that can change states through the lay up and cure phases, allowing for extraction of the tool in spite of trapping features which would hinder current tooling methods. This enables, for example, the full integration of skins, stringers, and frames or ribs in one step.
Spintech Ventures was founded in October 2010 to commercialise exclusively licensed shape memory polymer technologies, including Smart Tooling, which had been developed by CRG. The company claim that Smart Tooling’s patented technology will allow composite manufacturers to significantly reduce some combination of labor, material, and capital cost, while significantly increasing production through-put in the production of composite parts with trapped features and/or complex shapes.