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SBIR/STTR

Carbon Foam Self-Heated Tooling for Out-of-Autoclave Composites Manufacturing, Phase II

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Carbon Foam Self-Heated Tooling for Out-of-Autoclave Composites Manufacturing, Phase II
Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd. (Touchstone) has developed a novel and innovative Out-of-Autoclave (OOA) composites manufacturing process with an electrically heated carbon foam tooling system. Electrically Heated Tooling (EHT) utilizes a coal-based carbon foam (CFOAMREG) core that serves as both the tool substrate and the heating source for a composite part being cured. The tool heating is a result of flowing current through the carbon foam, which results in heating. This approach to self-heated tooling is a potentially enabling technology for manufacturing large composite structures by eliminating the need for autoclaves and large curing ovens, as well as by reducing costs, weight, and improving composite part quality. The overall objective of the NASA Phase 2 program will be to optimize critical factors for thermal uniformity in a CFOAM Electrically Heated Tool (EHT) and to validate the electrically heated cure process with current state-of-the-art OOA materials. The data generated will be used to produce a Scaled Composite Shroud (SCS) cylindrical mandrel EHT that will be designed, fabricated, tested, and used to cure a large composite part without an autoclave or oven. The SCS demonstration tool will be up to an 8' diameter and 12' length mandrel, which will be approximately one-forth of the scale as a tool necessary for an ARES V composite structure. More »

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