Eclipse Composites Engineering developed the process for high-volume applications
BLUFFDALE, Utah—Eclipse Composites Engineering, Inc. (ECE) has developed a proprietary composite stamping process as a novel solution to increasing demand for high volume, tight-tolerance composite structures. The company unveiled a composite, segmented manpack antenna, made via a composite stamping process that met all the requirements of traditional composite products but with reduced cycle times.
The carbon fiber structure was several years in development. It was cured in a hydraulic press as an out-of-autoclave and out-of-oven alternative to traditionally equipment-laden processes.
“Frustrated with the lengthy cycle times seen in advance composites, our customers kept asking why we couldn’t simply stamp-out parts like traditional metal processes,” said Karl Hawes, general manager of Eclipse Composites Engineering, in a press release. “That got us thinking. With lots of effort from our engineering staff and critical suppliers, we were able to develop a fast-cure process that doesn’t compromise the structural integrity of the product. A culture of thinking big and challenging the norm is key to our success. We push the limits of what’s possible.”
The process uses long-fiber reinforcements and traditional woven fabrics, such as plain weave and twill styles, but can be adapted to almost any reinforcement material that can be pre-pregged. Ply kits are inserted into an open mold at full part thickness and press cured to shape in a process that looks a lot like traditional metal stamping. The process is said to result in fast cycle times with improved mechanical properties and thickness repeatability not seen with traditional short fiber compression molding. The process has been proven with carbon fiber reinforcement but can also be used with glass reinforcement, the company said.
Eclipse Composites Engineering (www.eclipsecomposites.com) is a designer and manufacturer of lightweight military-grade SATCOM antenna technology that incorporates state-of-the-art conductive and nanomaterials. The technology incorporated into these products is said to provide the warfighter with a smaller, more durable, lighter antenna geometry that is collapsible for effective transport into the theater of operation.