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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

SMP Bladder Tooling for Manufacturing Composites

Completed Technology Project
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Project Description

SMP Bladder Tooling for Manufacturing Composites
CRG's shape memory polymer (SMP) Bladder Tooling is a cutting-edge manufacturing technology that can meet the manufacturing needs of the Ares launch vehicles. This process provides labor savings, weight reductions, and reliable manufacturing results for fabricating complex composites. SMP bladder tooling eliminates the transferring process by operating as both a rigid lay-up mandrel and an elastic bladder. Initially, the tooling is a rigid, durable surface for composite lay-up, then when heated during the cure cycle the tooling transitions to a flexible bladder to provide consolidation force. The tooling can then be easily removed from the cured composite while in the elastic state, reformed, and reused for the next part. In addition to increased part quality, SMP bladder tooling can present a significant cost reduction over current manufacturing processes. When comparing SMP bladder tooling with a silicone bladder over a foam insert for manufacturing of an Environmental Control System (ECS) duct, there is a 46% savings over the first three parts and 80% savings over twelve parts. A second cost saving example is the comparison of SMP bladder tooling with washout tooling for the same ECS duct. Cost saving for the first three parts is 40% and 79% over twelve parts. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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