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Airtech

Two New Autoclaves At Brookhouse

22 April 2003

With the installation of two new, high capacity autoclaves, Brookhouse Composites Limited has significantly increased its composites manufacturing and repair facilities. The two autoclaves are located in the newly-commissioned, composites engineering building, which is located within Brookhouse’s India Mill factory complex at Darwen.

The larger of the two new autoclaves has a 12.2m internal working length and a working diameter of 3.25m, with a design load of 8000 kg. It has a maximum working pressure of 100psi and a maximum working temperature of 220°C. The second unit is 4.2m long by 2.8m diameter but has a working temperature of up to 300°C and a working pressure of up to 220psi. The two new autoclaves are complemented by three existing computer controlled units at the India Mill site, allowing the company the capability to treat an extremely wide range of composite components, in terms of both size and geometry.

Brookhouse’s new composites engineering building comprises 5000m² of floor space and includes a 900m² clean room, constructed to Class 100k standards to meet the exacting requirements of the aerospace industry. The state-of-the-art facilities within the new facility have been designed to allow full process capability in the manufacture and repair of composite components. Pre-preg material kits are cut to size on a computerised ply profile cutting machine and subsequently laid up in the clean room on mould tools supplied by Brookhouse Patterns Ltd. The component parts are then cured at specified temperature and pressures by using the relevant autoclave, with test pieces being submitted to the on-site laboratory for mechanical test analysis. The composite components can then be subjected to non-destructive testing using a range of ultrasonic inspection devices before being routed, drilled, painted and assembled.

As Mike Haworth, manufacturing director of Brookhouse Composites, explains, “The investment in plant and equipment within an on-going expansion programme is a further declaration of our intent to maintain our lead in the field of composites manufacturing. The new facilities will allow us to meet increasingly more stringent demands from customers in terms of delivery, flexibility and capability and to provide a facility for the manufacture of new composites products, within the aerospace sector specifically and the engineering sector generally. We hope that our total composites capability and resource will be seen as a centre of excellence throughout industry.”






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