- THE MAGAZINE
- WEB EXCLUSIVES
Presented at the Defense Manufacturing Conference in November, the award to Lockheed Martin Aerospace, Hitco Carbon Composites, Cytec Engineered Materials and MAG cited the team for its development of a new method for optimizing the automated fiber placement (AFP) of bismaleimide (BMI) composite material in the manufacture of wing skins and nacelles. Working with the South Carolina Research Authority's (SCRA) Applied R&D division, the team developed methodologies that increased lay-down rates of BMI by 47% for JSF wing skins and 62% for the aircraft's nacelles. Process modifications included the installation of infrared heating technology and use of advanced materials for components to reduce friction.
Recognized at the Defense Manufacturing Conference were Ralph Rust, MAG senior project engineer; Jim Watkins, MAG project and proposal engineer and Michael Noel, MAG product manager, composites. The award was presented by Brett Lambert, deputy assistant secretary of defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy. Danna Kelley, program manager for SCRA, accepted the award on behalf of the team. SCRA applied R&D supports efforts to identify, develop and deploy advanced manufacturing technologies that increase productivity and reduce costs.
The F-35 JSF uses carbon fiber BMI composites to reduce weight and improve operational performance. The team designed experiments that identified material, environmental and machine interactions and their effects on process parameters. Knowledge gained in the studies helped increase the lay-down rates, so fabrication schedules can be compressed and investment in capital equipment reduced for all three versions of the JSF aircraft (CV, STOVL and CTOL). The Navy ManTech program funded the program.