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Matrix Composites Delivers Low Rate Initial Production Turbine Blade Spacers to Arnold Air Force Base

  • Tuesday, 27th August 2013
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Matrix Composites has delivered its final Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Composite Wind Tunnel Blade Spacer to the United States Air Force. 

The multi-million dollar contract was awarded in 2011 for an initial quantity of nine LRIPs to be followed by the manufacture of more than 200 production Spacers. Full rate production efforts are expected to extend into 2015.

The composite turbine-blade-spacer assemblies are highly complex, fully integrated structures that are used in the PWT 16T C-1 compressor at AEDC’s testing facility in Tennessee, US. The transonic compressor is approximately 36-feet in diameter and is powered by electric motors totalling nearly 300,000 horsepower. Utilising carbon fibre construction and Matrix’s expertise in composites design and precision closed-moulding, Matrix was able to significantly increase performance and durability from the previous spacer design. In addition to the improved performance, the Matrix engineering team reduced the weight of each assembly by 60%.

“This last LRIP delivery from Matrix marks a major milestone for the programme”, said Dan Simpson, Matrix Composites’ Engineering Director. “Our team worked diligently to ensure that all programmatic objectives were met and that this critical milestone was accomplished on-time.”

Matrix Composites’ President David Nesbitt adds, “Utilisation of state-of-the-art closed moulding methods has enabled our team to create an optimised solution for this high-load, high-fatigue environment. It’s a good example of what can be achieved when the right materials are combined with the right manufacturing methods.  A 60% weight reduction is significant and will ultimately enhance aerodynamic and propulsion testing capability for our military.”

Photo provided by Matrix Composites.


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