NetComposites
Airtech

Flow International Corporation Receives Contract from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

14 April 2008

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has awarded Flow International a second multi-million dollar contract to supply MHI with Flow’s Composite Machining Center (CMC) waterjet machine tools to cut carbon fibre wing skins.

Flow’s CMC waterjet machining system for carbon fibre composite wings will measure 118 feet long and 21 feet wide. The CMC will be utilized for cutting the composite wing skins which are part of the composite wing structure. The CMC system will be built and tested in Jeffersonville, Ind., one of Flow's four worldwide manufacturing plants. The UHP pumps that provide the ultrahigh-pressure water will be made at the Kent, Wash. headquarters.

""The award of Flow's second CMC commercial wing machining system proves the effectiveness of Flow’s waterjet technology and its ability to create ‘state of the art’ aircraft parts in a cost-effective manner,"" said Charley Brown, CEO of Flow International Corporation.

Waterjets cut by erosive action rather than friction and shearing. To cut carbon composite aircraft parts, a thin stream of water moving at three times the speed of sound is emitted from a tiny, jeweled orifice in the tool head of Flow's machine. The one gallon-per-minute water flow draws in a separate stream of fine garnet particles that slice into the surface being cut. They produce exceptional edge quality-free of frayed or delaminated areas, which minimizes costly secondary finishing. The waterjet’s low operating temperature doesn't affect the material being cut. Furthermore, because waterjets exert less lateral force on the material than conventional machines, tooling and fixturing requirements are simpler and less expensive.