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Cincinnati Machine’s VIPER System Produces One-Piece Fuselage

  • Friday, 18th November 2005
  • Reading time: about 2 minutes

A VIPER 1200 CNC fibre placement system and off-line composite programming system supplied by Cincinnati Machine have been used to successfully produce a one-piece carbon fiber fuselage developed by a consortium of European firms.

The fuselage, measuring 4.5m (14.7′) long by 2m (6.5′) at its widest point, was produced in the UK at BAE Systems Ltd., which is the coordinator of the Full-Barrel Composite Fuselage (FUBACOMP) project. FUBACOMP, an Anglo-French-German composites research program, is dedicated to advancing European capabilities in utilizing fibre placement technology. The $13.2 million (EUR 10 million) FUBACOMP research project funded by the European Union’s Fifth Framework program is aimed at reducing airframe mass through the maximum possible use of composite materials.

The one-piece, business jet fuselage, designed by Dassault Aviation in conjunction with BAE Systems, was manufactured using preimpregnated carbon fibre slit tape and honeycomb core. Automated fibre placement enables manufacturability of a single-piece fuselage that can replace typical business jet structures made up of many individual components and thousands of fasteners.

Cincinnati Machine’s VIPER fibre placement system used in the manufacture of the FUBACOMP structure combines the advantages of tape laying and filament winding with advanced computer control and software. With its 7 axes of motion, the VIPER system is particularly suited to highly contoured structures. High contour, variable wall thickness, and cut-out sections are all produced to near net configuration. Less material is wasted in the initial lay up and post-process machining and material removal operations are reduced.

VIPER fiber placement systems are currently applied in the manufacture of single-piece barrel fuselage sections, including multiple VIPER 3000s for Raytheon’s Premiere 1 and Hawker Horizon aircraft and multiple VIPER 6000s for the Boeing 787, as well as the VIPER 1200 used for the FUBACOMP structure.

“Producing a single-piece composite fuselage structure not only reduces assembly costs, it can also make the aircraft lighter, more efficient to operate, and less prone to fatigue through the elimination of metallic components,” said Cincinnati Machine’s Ron Hennies, Product Manager for Composites. “Cincinnati Machine is extremely pleased to have provided the advanced fiber placement technology that enabled the FUBACOMP project engineers to meet their goal of producing improved and more cost efficient aircraft components.”

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