Double Diaphragm Hot Drape Former

Aerospace & Composites


Double Diaphragm Hot Drape Former

Hot drape former

Project Description

This project involved the second stage design, manufacture and installation of a double diaphragm hot drape former machine for the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), based in Sheffield. With the first stage of the project involving a test machine for proof of concept, the AMRC required a redesign of the existing machine to incorporate new elements to improve efficiency.

The AMRC work with a number of Tier one and two suppliers in both the aerospace and automotive industries, therefore carbon fibre composites are at the forefront of their research and development. The new double diaphragm hot drape former incorporates a flat aluminium lay up table, allowing operators to lay up flat carbon fibre plies which are then pulled over the tool and formed into shape using infra red heat and vacuum.

Throughout the design stage, reducing cycle time was a priority. With the existing machine taking approximately 25 minutes for a full cycle, the new machine needed to be significantly faster to keep up with production demands.WIS Group incorporated linear guides and precision ballscrew assemblies to enhance the movements throughout the process. This reduced the cycle time to 10 minutes (including full cure and cooling). The double heater bank with multi-zone control allows the material to be heated from above and below, with the upper heater bank moving in synchronisation to the sandwiched membranes while being pulled over the tool. This allows for maximum heat penetration throughout the process.

In order to improve cooling, the AMRC included additional forced cooling using factory clean room air to circulate around the part before being removed. Adjustable ducting was used to suit each individual tool.

The overall project was delivered to site, commissioned and handed over within the given timescale.

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Double Diaphragm Hot Drape Former

  • Client: Automotive Client
  • Completion Date: August 2017
  • Total Contract Value: Undisclosed
Hot drape former Double diaphragm frames Hot drape former