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Aztex’s lightweight reinforced foam, X-Cor™, product was nominated for the prestigious Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award at the recent US Defense Manufacturers Conference.
Aztex has been working with Sikorsky to develop a new reinforced foam to provide a highly damage tolerant replacement to honeycomb products. The US Army supported the program with development funding for Aztex to build a prototype machine. This machine demonstrated the ability to cut finished shapes from stock foam sheets automatically. To insert carbon fiber pins at carefully controlled angles, and to insert vertical pins where required to increase compressive strength to allow bolt on attachments. No subsequent machining or local reinforcement will be required. The whole process is completely automatic and is carried out on one machine. The machine was demonstrated to the Comanche program office in March 2001 and proved so successful that PM Comanche provided a further $900000 for additional machines with capacity to meet LRIP, (limited rate initial production) rates until 2010.
The new X-Cor™ reinforced structures have been currently base-lined for several structures in the Comanche with a plan to eventually replace nearly all of the honeycomb parts. The weight savings will exceed 10% and will account for over 50kgs of weight on the airframe. Additionally there will be very large savings in non-recurring tooling costs and the customer will be able to change part configurations with no re-tooling expenses. Aztex will have the new X-Cor™ capacity on-line in April 2002.
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