Autoclaves have become an indispensable piece of equipment for processing high-quality polymer composite aircraft structural components. Tractive Power‘s range of electric tugs are used regularly by aerospace manufacturers to move parts in and out of autoclaves, usually towing the trolley with dorsal fins/wings and butt up to the autoclave.
Why Autoclaves are so Important
Today in the aircraft industry investments in autoclaves is considered to be strategically important as they are now used to produce very large aircraft components such as wing and fuselage. Autoclaves can also process a wide variety of materials, including thermoset and thermoplastic-based composite aircraft parts with varying contours and complex shapes. Thermosets are used more as they are considered less expensive compared to thermoplastics.
The quality requirements of the aircraft industry today are most stringent, plus manufacturers are always looking to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness of aircraft structural systems whilst ensuring reliable and consistent processing methods.
State-of-the-art autoclave systems are completely automated with reliable computer control systems which are required to execute the selected cure cycle.
In situations where more autoclaves are present on a single site, the current trend is to interconnect these systems through Local Area Networks (LANs), with overall efficiency enhanced and the autoclaves also optimised.
Replacing Metallic Parts in Autoclaves
The process of replacing more metallic parts by composites means there is more demand to enhance the service temperatures of polymer composite structural components to around 200°C from around 100°C. This translates to higher curing temperature and pressure of between 300 and 350°C and up to 15 bar(g), respectively.
Developing large autoclave systems presents itself with several challenges such as:
• Handling of Massive Door
• Quick Locking Door System
• Temperature Uniformity
• Special Material Procurements for door and shell flanges
Using Tractive Power’s battery-powered tugs reduces manual handling and turns a multi-personnel task into a single user operation; improving your team’s efficiency and safety in the process.
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If you would like to know more about our range of electric tugs, please contact us today.