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Using Compression Molding on Composite Materials in the Aerospace Industry

by Nice Rapid | Mar 20,2021 | Compression Molding

Manufacturing parts for an airplane can be challenging because it is hard to achieve consistency from composite parts, a material that is prevalent in this industry. The manufacturing technique employed on such is expensive and time-consuming.

This is because a lot of reworking is needed to finish a part, especially when made with complex and layered materials like carbon fiber reinforced plastics or CFRP.

But with the correct production technique, composite materials are still workable. Compression molding is the answer for this type of demand because it can reduce the variation from one component to another.

The good results from compression molding are due to the good process control it offers that improves the quality of the parts. It has also allowed manufacturers to gain a deeper insight into the process.

In this article, we will discuss how compression molding can improve the consistency in manufacturing parts for aerospace, now that it has turned lightweight and difficult to process composite materials.

Compression Molding Process

Compression molding is a manufacturing process that uses pressure and temperature to cure or form a component. There is a wide range of materials where compression molding can be applied.

It could be a fabric that is incorporated with thermosetting resins, bulk molding compound (BMC), sheet mold compound (SMC), or partially cured rubber. All these materials perform well when subjected to a heating cycle combined with pressure.

Best Application of Compression Molding Process

Aerospace components require higher strength-to-weight ratios, and compression molding can respond to this demand well. The composite materials used in this application are a perfect fit for the process.

It can create the structural components of the aircraft's interior. The composite materials are lightweight and cost less than the traditional aluminum material.

Even the composite fan blades used in LEAP engines that power the 737 Max and A320s are made through compressional molding.

In the move to reduce fuel consumption, the parts should have high bypass ratios and increased blade size. These blades must possess strength and flexibility to withstand bird strikes while keeping the weight to a minimum. The process should have tight process control and repeatability, which are the properties of the compression molding process.

Compression molding can produce parts that are less complicated and do not have fine features. It is ideal for producing thin parts, which have reduced curing time. Thus, shortens the production cycle.

Compression Molding of Metal Parts

The process is also applicable in producing metal parts. It uses the same process, but the energy and pressure required are understandably much higher. By applying the same principles of controlled heat and pressure, it can produce metallic parts according to the product design.

In compression molding, materials like metal should be heated at a small fraction above their melting points for the material to flow and reduce the scrap rate.

There you have it, a short description of the application of compression molding to manufacturing parts of an aircraft made from composite materials. For more questions about the compression molding process, you can contact Nice Rapid Services, an outsourcing company that will bring your ideas to life.

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