Hitco orders Viper Fibre Placement System

01 July 2007

MAG Cincinnati has received an order from Hitco Carbon Composites for a two-station Viper 6000 Fibre Placement System for automated in-the-round lay-up of carbon/epoxy composite structures.

It is the second order in three months from Hitco for state-of-the-art Cincinnati Machine composite fabrication systems. In April Hitco ordered Cincinnati Machine's advanced Charger Automated Tape Layer for automated lay-up of less contoured structures and shapes such as aircraft wings and tails.

The two Cincinnati Machine systems are key elements in a multi-million dollar modernization program aimed at making Hitco ""the best-in-class automated Tier II supplier to the aerospace and defence industry,"" said Edward G. Carson, Hitco chief operating officer. The strategic move forward positions Hitco to support major commercial aviation programs, including Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, the first commercial airliner designed for composite construction.

The Viper system has capacity for two tool stations and extended rail travel for the FPS head, enabling fabrication of one part while a finished part is removed from the other station and tooling is readied for the next. ""The two-station configuration would allow Hitco to realize near-continuous operation for highest throughput and machine utilization,"" said Randy Kappesser, Vice President & General Manager, Cincinnati Machine Composites. “MAG Cincinnati is the only FPS manufacturer to offer two-station capability,” he said. part of the SGL Group, Hitco is the first Tier II aerospace and defence manufacturer to commit to FPS lay-up capability, noted Kappesser. ""This speaks to the revolution coming as vehicles and systems convert from fabricated metal structures to high-strength, lightweight monolithic construction,"" he said. ""Demand for precision composite parts continues to grow, obviously for aviation and defence, but also wind power and energy generation, automotive, and large-scale construction. Composites offer a unique mix of properties — high strength, light weight, superior heat, fatigue and corrosion resistance, electrical and thermal conductivity. They permit elective engineering of performance characteristics, and make possible great time and labour savings by replacing multi-piece fabrications with one-piece monolithic components.""

“The Viper and Charger systems complement each other to bring automation efficiencies and precision to a broad spectrum of shapes,” he explained. “The Viper independently manipulates 32 narrow epoxy-impregnated fibre ‘tows’ in laying up round, oval, convex/concave, and hollow shapes around fixed or rotating tooling. It is especially effective at fuselage, engine cowls and inlet ducts, fan blades, nozzle cones, rocket case sections, and pressure tanks,"" he noted. ""The Charger specializes in more linear parts, flat or low contoured, such as wing skins, horizontal stabilizers, and floor sections. It can lay 3"", 6"" and 12""- wide epoxy-saturated carbon fibre tape in any orientation and thickness, thanks to a new state-of-the-art contour tape head. Accelerated lay-up rates allow faster turnaround for today's tighter assembly schedules, while improving inventory turns and earnings.”

Scheduled for 2007 and 2008 deliveries, the MAG Cincinnati automated composites processing machines will enable faster lay-up rates, to Hitco quality standards, on a wide variety of composite component structures currently produced mainly by hand lay-up. ""Automated lay-up ensures consistent quality while reducing labour and assembly time, inspection costs, scrap rates and re-work,"" said Carson. ""In addition, we are enhancing our design and engineering capabilities and our production facilities to obtain additional long-term production contracts with strategic Tier 1 aerospace manufacturers.""

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