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Vector Composites Inc., has completed construction of a proof-of-concept composite wing for potential use by Lockheed Martin on future weapons systems.
Part of a joint study being conducted by Lockheed Martin and the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Command (AMRDEC), the project is exploring new manufacturing processes for producing small, lightweight composite wings.
“We selected Vector for the project because they have an innovative new process for composite chopped fibre application,” said Chris Williams, manager for Advanced Manufacturing Technology at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
The first organization to perform the technique, Vector moulded a chopped fibre preform to create a dimensionally accurate net shape for the centre portion of the wing. The preform was then combined with carbon fabric and infused using a Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process to create the wing. The wings were finished with end caps produced by Long Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastics (LFT) technology.
Composite wings offer the potential to improve performance in terms of longer distances and increased payload. Program requirements for the composite wing specified a maximum weight of 5.76 pounds. Goal weight requirements were targeted at 5.25 pounds. Vector produced the wing at a weight of 3.7 pounds.
“Vector is in the business of creating solutions for manufacturing challenges and to help customers find ways to make their products work more effectively,” said Dave Sabol, Vice President of Operations for Vector. “Rather than operating with the philosophy that one technology fits all; we’re able to draw upon processes developed by key resources such as the National Composite Center (NCC). As a result, we can customize products to meet and exceed the parameters of individual jobs and we have the flexibility to adapt and adjust our design concepts to fit our customer’s needs and provide them with an optimum solution at the most cost effective price.”
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