02/01/2021 (Dayton – OH) Hawthorn Composites, the Dayton-based manufacturer of high performance, complex geometry, structural composites was awarded a structural inlet duct manufacturing contract from Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. to provide twelve inlet ducts for the XQ-58A Valkyrie platform.
The twelve structural inlet ducts will be made using Smart Tooling’s shape memory polymer (SMP) tooling, combined with overbraiding from A&P Technology and resin infusion. This process includes using an automated overbraiding process to apply dry fiber to a rigid SMP Smart Tool that acts like a mandrel during cure. The dry fiber braid is then processed with a low-cost epoxy and cured using a vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding process (VARTM) in a conventional oven.
Through a previous contract awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory to Cornerstone Research Group and Spintech Holdings, Inc., the structural inlet duct was converted from hand-applied carbon fiber prepreg and an autoclave cure to dry fiber overbraiding onto a Smart Tool, VARTM infusion, and an oven cure. Characterization from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL RXMS, Dayton, OH) quantified a 67% reduction in labor required for part fabrication, which translated to a part cost savings while only increasing the component weight 0.2% over the baseline component.
”We are extremely grateful to Kratos for the opportunity to provide both a tooling and a composite manufacturing solution for this exciting program. Kratos has been a great development partner and we look forward to continuing our collaboration to service their needs. Leveraging automated lay-up techniques, resin infusion, and an oven cure, in conjunction with Smart Tooling, allows us to fulfill the Hawthorn Composites promise; ”(We Will) Deliver High Value Complex Composites”
– Tom Margraf, VP, Engineering, Spintech Holdings Inc.
Manufacturing for the structural inlet ducts began in October 2020 and will conclude by September 2021.
Hawthorn Composites combines liquid infusion expertise, dry carbon fiber placement and overbraiding, and novel manufacturing methods to deliver superior composites at price points significantly lower than can be obtained using traditional manufacturing methods.
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:KTOS) develops and fields transformative, affordable technology, platforms and systems for United States National Security related customers, allies and commercial enterprises.
A&P Technology is a world-leading producer of braided fabrics, preforms and sleevings offering customized composite solutions to reduce costs and increase performance.
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