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After a year of process development, Dark Matter Composites has an ‘off the shelf’ solution to time consuming composite repairs and risks associated with the increase in use of carbon fibre.
According to Dark Matter, scarfed repair surfaces are time consuming to prepare and often consistency depends on the skill of the repair technician. Step sanded repair surfaces are even more time consuming and difficult to conduct but offer the best structural repair solution.
Dark Matter Composites state that their new ‘Step Sanding Tool Kit’ allows step sanded repair surfaces to be prepared in less time than scarf surfaces, typically in the order of 50-75% time saving.
The tool kit consists of a modified Dynabrade air router combined with diamond surface planning heads and flexible jigs that can produce step sanded repair surfaces on parts with double curvature. The kit can accommodate repair areas up to 1220mm (48”) in diameter, in step increments as low as 1mm (1/16”) and depth increments of 0.05mm (0.002”), allowing consistent step sanded repair surfaces to be produced with significant time saving. All jigs are laser engraved with metric and imperial scales for both radii and diameters. The jigs can also be used to prepare repair materials.
A range of diamond planning heads allow removal of a range of composite materials from course to fine, including gel coats, hand laid chopped strand mats, woven pre-preg fabrics, uni-directional, stitched and veil fabrics. The kit has been designed to be used cross sector, including civil, marine and automotive, through to aerospace repairs.
Dark Matter Composites claim that when the equipment is paired with a suitable dust extraction unit the on-tool extraction is highly effective at removing the dust generated at point of source, to the extent that it eliminates the need for containment curtains and dust masks during the surface preparation activity.
This tool kit brings high end step sanded repairs into the realms of standard repair practices at reduced cost.
“With the ever increasing use of composites for structural applications across industry sectors, composite repair processes are now coming under increased scrutiny. As part of our continual course updating strategy at Dark Matter Composites, we have fully reviewed composite repairs as ‘controlled processes’ that go beyond just removing and replacing damaged material. Dust generation and effective capture at point of source are also key parts of these activities. Having fully reviewed and trialled the equipment available for this type of repair, we very quickly came to the conclusion that there was a better solution that could be adopted.” Rodney Hansen, Managing Director, Dark Matter Composites.
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