TCO (Terminal Course Objectives) (A). Understand the Basics of Composite Materials Technology. Introduction.

In any subject it is easier to obey the rules if you have a basic understanding of the underlying science and technology. As an example, if you have ever conducted lap shear type adhesively bonded joint strength tests, using very poor surface preparations and very good ones, you will have found that the poor ones give almost no strength at all. The good ones fail at high loads although they all use the same adhesive. If you have never done such tests, or seen them done, you may find it much harder to believe that surface preparation is important. The background knowledge given in these pre-requisite modules will help you to understand the rules, quoted in data sheets and by instruction on the practical course, so that you will know why they are necessary and must be observed. They will try to give you an introduction to, and some understanding of, the critical points that need to be remembered when performing maintenance actions on composite parts. Always try to remember that the rules are not there to make life difficult, even if they are hard to obey at times. They are there to make sure that the job is well done and that failures do not occur as the result of either lack of knowledge or of the discipline required to apply sound knowledge to the job. These lessons have been learned, the hard way, by others and you don't want to repeat their mistakes yourself. Remember a good old saying, "Learn from the mistakes of others, you will never live long enough to make them all yourself". Foil of differences between composites and metals. KBA supply. New words One of the first things to be appreciated is the need to learn the meaning of new words. Every activity, sport or hobby has its own language that may mean very little to those not involved. In most languages the same word can have several different meanings depending on the subject under discussion. Most subjects will also have their own new words. To understand a new occupation we must learn new words and new meanings for old words. This takes some time and may cause confusion for the first few weeks. There is no way around this except time, patience and some effort. SAE AIR 4844 Composite and Metal Bonding Glossary will help considerably. New materials There is an immediate need to appreciate a significant range of new materials, Most people are familiar with wood, metals and several types of plastic. Entering the world of composites means learning about carbon, glass and aramid fibers, resins and adhesives, bagging films, release films, potting compounds, honeycomb core and foams of various types. It also means learning how vacuum systems work to apply pressure, how thermocouples measure temperature and how hot-bonders are used to control temperature, vacuum pressure and curing times. We will begin with resins and

adhesives and then move on to the three main fibers carbon, glass and aramid and also core materials of various types. For more information see Reference 1. A1 Distinguish among resin, fiber and core applications and uses.

Resins A resin is often called a matrix when used in conjunction with reinforcing fibers, i.e. a composite consisting of the fibers and the resin. In modern composite materials applications there are many resins available and numerous products within each type. Epoxy resins are the ones most commonly used in aircraft structural components, but Phenolic resins are used for internal composite parts such as floor panels, galleys and overhead storage bins because phenolic resins are less toxic in the event of fire. Polyimide and Bis-maleimide resins are used where higher service temperatures are needed, Polyester, Vinyl Ester and Epoxy resins are used extensively in boat building and for many other uses. First it should be noted that the term "resins" is normally used to describe relatively low viscosity liquid materials that form the matrix of a composite when they are cured. The word viscosity is used to describe how "runny" the materials are, for example, water is a "thin" (low viscosity ) fluid that flows easily, treacle is a much thicker (high viscosity) one. Wet-layup resins: These resins are typically two-part systems, where a curing agent is mixed with a base resin and the mixture brushed onto layers of Fibreglass, Carbon fiber, Aramid fiber or occasionally other less commonly used fibers. These liquid resins may then cure to a solid product at room temperature or they may need heat to be applied to achieve the chemical reaction required to make them cure to a solid. It is essential that the base resin and curing agent are weighed out in the correct proportions, to the nearest tenth of a gram using electronic scales and then mixed thoroughly for at least three minutes. This is important in order to achieve the required strength and temperature resistance of the composite part. . When the required amounts of base resin and curing agent have been taken from their cans, or other containers, always remember to replace the lids immediately. This is important because moisture absorption, especially into the curing agent degrades the material and reduces the strength of the final product. These two-part systems must be weighed accurately to ensure the correct mix ratio. Check the data sheet each time as different systems have significantly different ratios. They must then be thoroughly mixed for at least three minutes. Trials have shown that this is essential. Three minutes feels a very long time when mixing a resin, rather like waiting for a bus. Use your watch and check the time or you will be in danger of mixing for less than three minutes and then you will not achieve a good mix. Some two-part systems contain dyes to color the two parts, say red and white or blue and yellow. When a completely uniform color is achieved with no streaks the resin can be considered mixed but the three minute rule is worth using to be on the safe side. Remember that the resin matrix must be fully cured to give the final composite part the compression strength it needs.

Pre-preg also has an open time limit at room temperature of about one month. which must be removed before application or the layers of pre-preg will not stick to each other during the curing process. When required for use a roll must be allowed to warm to room temperature and must not be opened until all moisture. Records must be kept of shelf life and open time for each roll. Two types of adhesives are typically used in bonding composites. It is then supplied as a roll between two plastic release sheets. The surface preparation of metal parts to be bonded is even more critical than the surface preparation of composite parts therefore the technician must be very careful to ensure that the surfaces to be bonded are properly prepared. After this period the material must be tested for acceptance before use or be scrapped. Matrix resins come in a wide range of chemical formulations and some can work at much higher temperatures than others. Adhesives Adhesives are used to bond composite parts together and are often used for bonding metal parts. paste adhesives and film adhesives. The total time out of the freezer must be recorded on each occasion plus 15 minutes and when the open time limit has been reached the material must be tested before further use. due to condensation from the shop atmosphere onto the cold roll. which means pre-impregnated fibers. This is necessary to maintain the original design strength of the part. They also need to be weighed out . Some types can be cured at 150oC (300oF). when completely mixed. usually parts made from aluminum alloys but also titanium alloys and occasionally stainless steel. those that cure at 120oC (250oF) and those that cure at 180oC (350oF).Pre-preg resins: Alternatively the resin can be supplied already applied to the fabric in a form called Pre-preg. Adhesives are chemically similar to composite matrix resins but are of higher viscosity to avoid the adhesive flowing out of joints and leaving them "resin starved". The resin is then at what is known as the "B"stage and must be kept in a freezer at -18oC(0oF) until it is required for use. The first problem in repair. is to check the SRM or part drawing and find out the materials the part is made from and hence the materials that must be used for repair. In repair work one major requirement is that only the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). The surface treatment of metal parts will be covered more fully later. Metal reinforcements are sometimes used in composite parts so there is a need to understand the adhesive bonding of metal parts as well as composites. has been completely evaporated. In this condition it has a shelf life of six to twelve months depending on the type. Paste Adhesives: Two-part room temperature curing adhesive systems are usually of about "toothpaste" viscosity. The maximum temperature at which a composite part can be used depends on the choice of resin and fiber. once a decision has been made that the part will be repaired in preference to being replaced. Pre-preg materials used in the fabrication of aircraft structural components normally come in two types. Carbon and glass fibers can be used at quite high temperatures but aramid and polythene fibers can be limited in maximum temperature by the fibers rather than the resins. SRM (Structural Repair Manual) specified resins and fibers or OEM or DER (Designated Engineering Representative) agreed alternatives may be used.

ailerons. engine cowlings. Carbon fibers have the best all-round properties when all factors are considered and so are the most commonly employed fiber for critical structural aircraft components. fuselage. Carbon fiber is also used in undercarriage doors. glass and aramid. or partly cured condition. These are carbon. Carbon fibers are often woven into fabric (or cloth) forms for original part and repair pre-pregs or dry fiber mats for wet layup repairs. after removing the required amount of adhesive. pressures and temperatures. The maximum service temperature of paste adhesives varies considerably with their chemical composition so it is essential to ensure that only the OEM approved type or approved equivalent is used for each specific purpose. helicopter rotor blades and can even be found in undercarriage components for some helicopters. When bonding composite pre-preg to honeycomb it is required to add a thin layer of film adhesive and not rely completely on surplus resin from the pre-preg being adequate to ensure good fillets to the honeycomb core. They also require low temperature storage. 150oC (300oF)or 180oC (350oF) depending on the type. One part paste adhesives are also available and these need to be heat-cured in a similar way to film adhesives Curing of paste adhesives takes place above a minimum temperature that depends on the chemical formulation. stabilisers (horizontal and vertical). . Carbon fiber can be supplied in several grades of strength and modulus and forms. They come in various weights per square foot or square meter and can also be cured at 120oC (250oF). Quartz fiber is sometimes used for radomes and Boron fiber patches are often used to repair metal parts that exhibit fatigue cracks. These cure temperatures must be accurately maintained over the entire bondline as too low a temperature means an incomplete cure and too high a temperature may make the bondline more brittle. Each adhesive data sheet will provide the temperature limits for that particular product. Epoxy adhesives are the most common type used for bonding aircraft structural composite parts. main wing flaps and rudder structures. They are used for wing. Some have a wider band of acceptable cure temperature than others. See the data sheets for curing times. a lower temperature may be used for a longer time but all film adhesives have a lower temperature limit below which a full cure will not take place. elevators. One part resins must be returned to the freezer as soon as possible after the required amount has been taken Film Adhesives: Adhesives can also be supplied in the "B" stage. Fibers used in composite structures There are three fiber types that are most commonly used in composite aircraft structures. when they are known as film adhesives because they are a thin film of adhesive between two plastic release sheets. glass is water clear and aramid is yellow in color. to avoid moisture absorption. Check the data sheet for the material you are using. When bonding aluminum alloy skins to aluminum alloy or aramid honeycomb it is essential to use a fairly heavy weight of film adhesive in order to produce a good size of fillet where the honeycomb joins the skin. In some cases. They are easily distinguished from one another because carbon is black.accurately and the two parts mixed thoroughly for at least three minutes. Lids must also be immediately replaced on containers. but not all.

A further point that should be noted is that some composite lay-ups may use fabrics and tapes of different weights at certain points in the lay-up and sometimes layers of aramid or glass are added at special positions. An orientation clock (sometimes called a warp clock) is also shown on each drawing sheet to give the lay-up direction of each ply relative to a key direction on the part. "E" glass and "S" glass. as once removed from the roll there is no simple means of identifying the finish used on a fabric. floor panels and overhead stowage bins. has higher mechanical properties and is used where the additional cost can be justified. “Kevlar” 149 has a much lower water uptake than “Kevlar” 49. "Kevlar" 49 is the most common for aircraft use and "Kevlar" 149 can be supplied if required. Aramid can be supplied in several types. After weaving this size is burned off by heating to 600oF (315oC) in an oven and a finish is applied to improve the resin to glass bond strength and also to increase bond durability. Aramid fibers are used for some radomes and Quartz fiber for some others. which is too thick to be woven. When fabric is cut from a roll a label with full identification details must be attached or included in the plastic bag. Drawings and SRM's give ply tables showing the material type and lay-up direction of each ply in a part. To assist in good adhesion to matrices Carbon fiber is treated with an oxidation process and then an epoxy sizing/finish is applied. Glass fibers are available in two basic types. It is very easy to use a fabric of the wrong weight and great care must be taken to ensure that this does not happen. These materials can also be used for galleys. Carbon is sometimes used for floor panel skins. can be made into fabrics having many different weave styles or made into unidirectional tapes each having a wide range of areal weights. It is important to note that the choice of finish used on the glass depends on the resin to be used to make the composite. This information must give the surface finish details. "E" glass fiber is cheaper and by far the most commonly used but "S" glass fiber. except Boron.Glass fiber is used for radomes because it has good transmissivity and is not electrically conductive. Glass and aramid fabric manufacturers supply documentation that give tables showing the finish required for each resin type. This means that all the plies in a lay-up may not be the same materials or the same weight so careful identification and the correct location and orientation of each ply is a serious matter. In should be noted that a fiber reinforced composite is only strong in the direction of the fiber. The angle of each ply is important to strength and stiffness and each layer or ply must be laid up in the direction given on the drawing or SRM page. It . Glass fiber has the sizing applied after the fibers have been drawn from the bush and this helps to prevent damage during weaving. All these fibers. although more expensive. durable repair. It can be seen that it is essential to select the correct fiber type and weight of fabric or tape with the right surface finish in order to make a strong. Aramid fabrics and tapes may or may not have a finish depending on the resin to be used.

fortunately.should also be borne in mind that although composites are very strong in the fiber direction their transverse strength may be only about one thirtieth of their longitudinal strength. and especially cargo floor panels in aircraft. The size of the indenting object is also important. This requires the use of the correct finish on the fibers and dry fiber surfaces. The transverse strength of a composite is limited by the lower of two properties. Sandwich parts consist of two thin face sheets. which has cellulose fibers in a matrix called lignin. core materials for these types of applications need both good compression and shear strengths. Anyone involved in composite repairs is likely to deal with many of these components. Use the grit size recommended in the SRM. with a core material between them.26 from Ref: 1 or Sandwich construction diagram (use SRM diagram of a sandwich cross-section). undercarriage doors. Therefore. Note that for repair work the first repair ply should be oriented in the same direction as the surface ply to which it is to be bonded. Figure 2. The first is the resin strength itself and the second. The low value of transverse strength needs to be considered in design. Sandwich panels are near to optimum design when the weight of the two skins is equal to the weight of the core material. Ideally the strength of the bond to the fiber needs to be greater than the strength of the resin itself. and hence stronger. In a similar way to an "I" section steel beam used in buildings. is the resin to fiber bond strength. Small indentors tend to cause compression failure of the core and larger ones cause shear failure. many fairings and wing trailing edge panels. dry composite surfaces. engine cowlings. It has been found that the damage resistance can be improved at the lowest weight increase by using a heavier. relatively easy to repair. which may govern the end result. These factors need to be taken into account when designing wheels for food carts. This is a similar ratio to wood. These thin-faced structures are easily damaged but are. which have been carefully abraded with aluminum oxide or silicon carbide abrasive paper need to be used. This is why clean. The largest practicable “footprint” on the panel is desirable. core material rather than by adding to the weight of the top skin. If the resin comes unstuck from the fiber then the transverse strength will be only that of the bond and not the resin. It is also helpful for the food cart wheels to have . the skins take the tension and compression loads that are taken by the flanges in an "I" beam and the core takes the shear loads like the web does in an "I" beam. Only the surface resin layer should be abraded without damaging the first layer of fiber. However. in applications such as passenger. to provide stiffness and strength at low weight. Core materials Aircraft currently employ many parts such as flight control surfaces. the indentation or damage resistance may be very important to the life of the part in service. which utilise sandwich composite construction.

Flex core. cell shapes are used for the nose of radomes and other double curvature requirements. upper temperature limits. is that hexagonal honeycomb. The normal hexagonal cell does not bend easily except when aramid is heat formed. Over-expanded honeycomb is made to bend one way and to wrap around leading edges or to make tubes. will not always take up the shape required in a radome if it cannot be heat-formed. The factors that determine choice are strength. end-on to the cells. is so small that good fillets of adhesive are essential to a good bond (0. Carbon fiber cloth honeycombs All honeycombs can be supplied in a range of cell sizes. balsa wood can be a good core material but only if water is prevented from ingressing into it. As an example. The bondline area. It may be necessary to request OEM approval to use over-expanded or flex core of equivalent strength and stiffness in these positions for repairs.“tyres” of the lowest possible coefficient of friction to allow the wheels to swivel easily on the carpet in the cabin. and other parts in service.5 mm or . Polyurethane foam Polyimide foam Polymethacrylimide foam (Rohacell). that is supplied flat. moisture absorption and cost. A considerable range of core materials exists. One problem that can occur with radomes. Aramid honeycomb with hexagonal core is often heat-formed by an OEM as this can be cheaper than buying over-expanded or flex core. although many are used for a range of components. For this reason only the correct type of film adhesive may be used to . When foam cores are used in boat hull construction they must be of the "closed cell" type to avoid water absorption if the outer skin is damaged. when made or selected properly. each serving its own specific purposes. cell shapes and core densities. Aluminum alloy honeycomb must be anodized to ensure a good bond to the adhesive that joins it to the skin. although a bad material can be produced when its formulation is not correct or a process is not carried out correctly or it has degraded in some way before use.020 inch minimum fillet size) is recommended. and we have to use the right ones in the right places. Only electrically non-conductive core materials may be used to make or repair radomes. Balsa wood Polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) Polyvinyl chloride foam (cross-linked and uncross-linked versions). Materials are what they are. There is no such thing as a bad natural material. or double flex core. Typical core materials used in composite aircraft structural sandwich parts are: Aramid honeycomb Glass cloth honeycomb Aramid cloth honeycomb Aluminum alloy honeycomb Other core materials currently available are.

The work is planned to run smoothly so there are no long delays between layup of the part and the cure cycle. 4. with any steps in temperature if required. 7. When composite repairs are performed by other than the OEM’s it is essential that the repair materials. Correct processing of composites and adhesives is absolutely vital. repair processes and the repair personnel are fully approved and qualified. to very high standards. The processing parameters that need to be controlled are many. 8. This is the basic reason for this training course. The pressure will also be monitored throughout the cure. When metal sheets or large billets are purchased from approved and long-established companies with the full quality control test data supplied. Composite components are normally made by the OEM. the larger the repairs we are likely to be allowed to make. 1. The part is laid up in a clean room with a positive pressure where temperature and humidity are also controlled. If in doubt always use a slightly heavier than specified film adhesive when bonding to honeycomb to ensure a good fillet. 3. 6. 2. drinking or eating is permitted in the clean room. No smoking. Production quality tooling is used as a significant number of parts have to be made and good tooling is essential. OEM's have as one of their greatest concerns the quality of repairs made at outstations around the world. No cutting or sanding is permitted in a clean room and staff must wear clean overalls. A2 Describe various composite processing parameters. Repair processing See section B1. It may be a surprise to know that good repair is actually a more difficult process. The staff are trained and make many parts and therefore become familiar with the needs of the job they are doing. Normally an autoclave is used to ensure the required pressure and temperature and a computer controlled program will control the heat –up rate. or an approved subcontractor. All film adhesives and pre-pregs are stored to their manufacturer’s recommendations and records are kept to ensure that materials are within their shelf life and in good condition at the time of use. On the positive side. the cure cycle. . where they have no control over the quality of the work. the better we do the work. The workshop temperature is maintained within specified limits and so is the relative humidity of the atmosphere. OEM's and airlines can have a high level of confidence that the material is of the right quality. honeycomb. and the cool down rate.

5. for more details of thermocouples. such as hot-bonders. weight and cell size with the specified finish and must be undamaged. 3. Your hot-bonder will only work with the type for which it was designed. If using pre-preg material.1.e. Dry until readings in the green band are obtained. and only the hot junction employed for temperature measurement is visible . room temperature 18oC (64oF) to 30oC (86oF)and 60% maximum relative humidity. where great accuracy was required. Check with a moisture meter if components are fiberglass or aramid. dry and warmed to room temperature) and within their specified shelf lives. perforated and non-perforated must be correct and in the required positions and all the materials must be clean and dry and in good condition. It must also be oriented to drawing and in line with the core being repaired. it was common practice many years ago to place one junction. No moisture meter for carbon fiber is available at a reasonable cost for general use. 7. Remember that thermocouples are often accurate to about plus or minus five degrees. In special laboratory cases. AIR 4844 defines them as. If other core materials e. The recommended conditions are a clean room with a positive air pressure to minimise the entry of dust and dirt. If vacuum pressure is to be used the bagging film and sealant and the breather cloth lay up. Use the correct type as several types are available and their calibration requirements are very different. Thermocouples must be correctly located. If new honeycomb is used in a repair it must be of the right type. Each ply of composite must be of the correct material type. The component must be clean and dry and the surface must be correctly prepared for bonding the repair patch. 4.g foams are used they must be of the right type and weight and they must be joined to the existing core with the adhesive specified in the SRM. Dry the surface to SRM requirements as a minimum if the surface is carbon fiber. UK have shown that relative humidity below 35% does not lead to any significant improvement in results and is uncomfortable as a working environment. clean and in good condition. lay the ply and then roll the ply down before removing the top release film for each layer. 8. A figure of 35% relative humidity is preferred. the two junctions of which are at different temperatures. Place all release films in one pile and check that they have all been removed before proceeding with the bagging process. a cold junction compensation circuit is used. See Ref:1. In portable equipment. the cold junction. 6. together with all release films. in melting ice and the other at the point of temperature measurement. both release films must be removed. Good lighting should be provided. Any tooling required must be available. If you are not familiar with thermocouples a simple description may help. Tests at QinetiQ. The workshop must be clean. Farnborough.”A device which uses a circuit of two wires of dissimilar metals or alloys. To ensure a good cure add five degrees to the cure temperature. The required repair materials must be available and in the correct condition (i. It must be bonded to the skin with the specified adhesive and bonded to the existing core with potting compound using the specified materials. dry and at the right temperature and humidity. 2. Chapter 10. weave and weight and it must be laid in the right place and in the right direction. Remove one release film.

The specific pre-preg material working life is provided in the supplier data. Breather cloth MUST be placed under the vacuum extract fitting. to the user. permanently. Vacuum pressure must be maintained for the whole cure time and until the component temperature has fallen to 50oC or less. A net electromotive force (emf) or current. They are listed in order of cost. After curing. Do not place the vacuum extract fitting on the part or it will leave its mark. Local heating at any cool spots may be needed to do this. Do not locate the vacuum extract fitting too near the part or it may draw resin into itself. Chromel/Alumel and Platinum/Platinum Rhodium alloy. 1. 10. If resin gets into the extract fitting it may also block it and solid resin is difficult to remove. In this case the volatiles seemed to be inhibiting the cure. The most common thermocouple types are Iron/Constantan. 11. 13. Some large jobs may take three days to lay up and this is a significant amount of the permitted open time if the material is anywhere near the end if its shelf life. Shell Epikote 828 seems to get more viscous with time in storage. . see the data sheet. One sample did not cure with non-perforated release sheet on both sides but it did cure when the nonperforated release sheet on one side was removed and replaced with a perforated sheet. Any crystallisation can be removed by heating the base resin alone to 60oC maximum for one hour. 2. The same applies to Shell Epikote 815. Some pre-pregs need a perforated release sheet to allow volatiles to escape in addition to its use for bleeding off excess resin. occurs as a result of this temperature difference between the two junctions. 3. the release films and peel plies must be removed with care to avoid damage after so much good work has been done. The minute electromotive force . 12. which is 828 with a diluent. Some very practical lessons learned the hard way. to avoid degradation of film adhesives and pre-pregs at room temperature. The temperature readings from all the thermocouples must be within the required limits and maintained correctly for the specified length of time to achieve full cure. Bonding should commence as soon as possible after the materials have been laid up. is sufficient to drive a galvanometer or potentiometer”.9. 4. Vacuum pressure must be correct and the leakage rate check requirement must be met. 5. These can be calibrated in terms of temperature. or current. For such work the remaining open time for the material should be checked before lay-up starts. This is to ensure a good airflow and to prevent resin going up the vacuum line.

for example. If. aramid and carbon fibers are mixed in a laminate then if the component 7. Tools (molds) must be absolutely clean and smooth. This is especially true when time-expired material is being used for training purposes. 7. depends on resin matrix properties. Fatigue resistance depends on the relative fatigue strain to failure of the fiber and resin. Composite laminates will not bond together properly at zero pressure. 8. which often depends on the cure temperature. Interlaminar shear strength (ILSS). A3 Describe composite design parameters and effects of processing Design parameters include strength. Temperature cycling casn have a significant effect on a composite part. Creep resistance depends on the creep characteristics of the fiber. 4. This is related to the glass transition temperature. Some of the finer points can only be learned from experience and may not be applicable to all materials. Just rolling them together. 6. creep resistance. fatigue resistance. If the resin fatigue strain to failure is higher than that of the fiber then the fatigue properties become fiber dependent. A good vacuum is essential for a good bond and to extract volatiles. Strength in the fiber direction depends almost entirely on the fibers. 1. It is worth making your own check list and recording experiences to save going through the whole process again another day. Stiffness in the fiber direction depends almost entirely on the fibers. temperature limitations and relative thermal expansion coefficients between different layers of fabric or tape and between the component and the tooling used. Hence the correct resin must be used and it must be cured at the correct temperature for the required time.6. Impact resistance depends on the toughness of the fibers and the strain to failure of the resin matrix. 2. Release sheet should extend well beyond the end of the part to avoid resin sticking to the mold face. The correct finish on all types of fiber is important to give a good resin to fiber bond. even with a good roller pressure. . 10. 5. All defects will be repeated on the part. Also on the strength of the matrix to fiber bond. 8. See ASTM-D-2344. stiffness. or short beam shear strength. Composite compression strength depends on the matrix resin modulus. 9. impact resistance. If the fiber has a fatigue strain to failure higher than the resin then the resin will fail first and laminate failure will be progressive. 3. The maximum operating temperature of a composite is defined by the maximum operating temperature of the resin matrix. will not be sufficient.

Hence the need for this training course or an equivalent. These can result in reduced compression strength.g. plywood or plastic to avoid "break out" on the rear face. This is well described in a very informal video supplied by Du Pont. e. then voids may be present in the cured product. assembly and finishing processes. If you don't you will split the wood across the grain. See Ref: 1. suffers a wide range of temperature cycling e. Ref: 2. As with any material the cutting tools must be sharp and use the angles. The back face will have large splinters broken from it. plywood or composites are the need to use a backing plate of wood. Delamination has been found to occur over a period of time in engine cowlings of this design. The plies must be de-bulked prior to cure. Many of the words in the above section may be new to you. Cutting speeds and feed rates must also be correct. to be the best for each process. The moisture absorption into the matrix could be increased . The resin must be fully cured. that incorrect processing will affect the strength and maximum service temperature of the final product. Please see section A6 Composite and Metal Bonding Glossary SAE AIR 4844 latest issue for definitions of these terms. Always cut or sand a composite so that the fibers are cut in tension. Always keep a copy handy. and the vacuum is not sufficient to remove any solvent vapors that outgas from the resin during cure. The resin matrix may have a lower modulus than required and the compression strength could be reduced. Time spent reading the glossary is an important educational process in itself. Composite machining. it can be very helpful. A4 Describe various composite machining. Always consult source documentation. Chapter 13. SRM’s from Airbus and Boeing cover the design of drills and other cutting tools very well. Composites behave in a similar way but are much more expensive if you damage them. Likewise if you need to chamfer a piece of wood you must cut it with a plane or chisel so that the wood fibers are in tension.11. It can be seen from this list of things that can go wrong. If the resin matrix is not fully cured then the performance of the composite may be seriously affected. in an engine cowling. found by much experiment.g the SRM for the correct cutting instructions. If the plies are not de-bulked sufficiently to remove air before heat is applied. The correct de-bulking procedure must be followed and the required vacuum or autoclave pressure MUST be maintained for the full cure time. . Cracking due to linear expansion differences has been reported and must be considered in design. 12. The glass transition temperature could be lower than the specification requires. The correct perforated release films and breather cloths must also be used. Simple factors that apply equally well to cutting wood. If you doubt this just put a piece of wood or plywood in a vise and push an ordinary twist drill through it at a high feed rate. unless the above factors are understood and dealt with. then disbonding may occur due to the stresses imposed by the differential thermal expansion and contraction because these characteristics are different for the two fibers.

A suitable band saw needs to run at a blade speed of 5. Routers Routing is a very coarse cutting system and only sharp tools of the right design can be used with the support of the right templates.g. Cutting honeycomb cores Aluminum alloy. Another important point with aramids is that they are softer and need a sharper cutting tool. e. DO NOT.05 mm (0.000 metres (16. although not itself hard. wears steel tools quite rapidly. Cutting foam cores . Frequent sharpening of all cutting tools is necessary. to the required shape to fit a hole using a sharp knife. If tools have been used to cut glass or carbon fibers they will not be sharp enough to cut aramids afterwards. Special band saws High speed diamond grit-coated band saws are good for cutting composites but backing support must be provided. and then to "pot" the honeycomb in place around the edges to join it to the existing honeycomb with a suitable potting compound. the skin should be protected. a generous amount is recommended to ensure good filleting. This blade MUST NOT be used to cut any other materials. Dust extraction must be provided on all power tools and all dust produced by hand tools should be removed with a vacuum cleaner as soon as practical. Any tools used to cut aramids must be kept for aramids only.000 ft) per minute. A special blade is also needed with only a 0. You can then apply a suitable adhesive to the bottom skin. Carbon fiber. Once the adhesives have cured. aramid and other honeycomb materials can be supplied in sheets cut to the thickness required. Stanley Knife or a razor blade. but if they need to be cut to thickness from a block then a very high speed band saw is needed. Consequently only a very high speed can help to produce a clean cut before the material is bent out of shape. slightly in excess of the final thickness. They can be cut down the cells with a sharp knife.This is especially important when cutting aramids. under any circumstances use a pressurised air line to blow dust away as this only adds to the particle concentration that you are breathing and is an unacceptable health hazard. and then the honeycomb core that projects above the skin can be carefully sanded flush with the skin in preparation for the application of the skin repair patch. For sandwich panel repairs it is common practice to cut a piece of honeycomb. The reason for this high blade speed is that the only resistance to the cutting force of the blade teeth is the inertia of a very lightweight material.002 inch) offset on the teeth to avoid tearing the honeycomb.

6. Too much pressure may cause the blade to break.g. Never use a dull (worn) blade. to remove impact or disbonding damage. Tank cutters These are like circular hacksaw blades and are used by plumbers to cut holes in water tanks. It can also be used for single cuts. The following recommendations are made to ensure safety and quality. Generous corner radii should always be used for skin repairs. and safe. Clamp the composite to minimise vibration and to improve the quality of cut. Do not use near solvents or other flammable fluids as these cutters are electrically powered. Use suitable tank cutters Grinding burrs . 4.e 25mm (one inch) or larger. 1. Other cutting and sawing processes generate considerable frictional heat. 5. Extraction systems should be used to remove these vapors and the dust. 7. This technique is often used to cut out damaged sections of skin from a sandwich panel with honeycomb or other core prior to the removal of damaged core. Oscillating saws (Cast cutters) This method uses a circular saw blade that oscillates through a very small angle. it may cause injury. cutting method. 3.Some can use hot wire cutters but others e. It has the advantages that accurate profiles can be cut quickly and the temperature is low so that no damage is done to the matrix resin during the cutting process. give off dangerous fumes and the use of hot-wire cutters is not permitted. If the blade touches the skin. Check with the material data sheet and SRM to ensure that you use the correct. This causes unwanted fumes to be given off during cutting. square corners should not be used as they can induce fatigue cracks at a later stage . Water jet cutting This uses very high pressure water containing an abrasive grit and is a very good production line system when large numbers of parts need to be cut. When the same saw is used on a rigid composite it will cut the material because it is rigid compared to skin and flesh. Clean the blade before each cutting operation. The machinery is very expensive and needs good safety systems as a water jet can remove a finger or an arm very rapidly. They are very useful for cutting large radii at the corners of holes cut in damaged sandwich panel skins. Tighten the blade retaining nut before each use. It also washes away the machining dust. polyurethane foams. the flexibility of the skin is sufficient to allow it to move by the same amount as the blade or more so that no cutting action takes place. i. Use the correct blades . It should be noted that when cutting out sections of skin. 2.

such as acetone. Machining a hole in carbon fiber or glass fiber is particularly gruelling on bits. firstly air is directed away from the work and dust is not blown around the shop and secondly venturitype vacuum attachments to the tools can be used to provide dust extraction. See Ref:1. Pneumatic tools with rear exhausts are recommended and are beneficial for two reasons. tank cutters and grinding burrs. it should be noted that the grit on a worn paper slowly breaks up into a smaller grit size and so becomes a finer grade with time. Boeing recommends drilling dry if possible. CO2. . non-oil-containing Freon or Boelube as lubricants.These come in a wide range of shapes and sizes for various tasks and a convenient size can usually be found to smooth the edges of cut-outs in skins and to blend the sides with the corners produced by tank cutters. fuel or fuel vapor may also be a problem. MIBK and IPA are used for cleaning off surplus resin from parts and for cleaning resin or adhesives from tools and molds and these solvents are flammable. Always check the SRM for the correct drills and tools. by using a grit size that is too coarse. Use the correct disc with the right grit type and size. A high skill level is required to achieve good results. For carbon fiber. Carbide or cobalt-tipped spade bits are good. See Chapter 13 in Ref:1. They must be small and light enough to be handled easily. Also new abrasive paper should be used when the first piece has become worn out or clogged. If necessary use filtered air. High Speed Grinders These machines are used for light sanding. A delicate touch is needed because the objective is to lightly abrade the resin at the surface without cutting into any of the surface fibers. It is important not to exceed the glass transition temperature of the resin during drilling. While it is important not to remove too much material too quickly. feather edging and cutting. In general a high cutting speed and a low feed rate is recommended. These drills are used to carry drill bits of various types. The reason for this is that solvents. but diamond polycrystalline coated tools are better. The temperature of the component must not exceed 60oC during machining of any kind. Hand Tools. This really does need care and practice. Generally 120 grit should be coarse enough to remove paint and 240-320 grit is suitable for preparing surfaces for adhesive bonding. Hand power drills The first point to be made about these is that they should be air-powered and not electrically powered. Orbital Sanders These sanders are normally compressed air powered and should be used carefully and the correct type of grit and grit size must be used. This will generate a lot of frictional surface heat on the part and the cutting rate will fall to near zero. If working directly on aircraft. They are always present in composite and metal bonding workshops and fire is a serious risk to be carefully avoided. This applies to high speed grinders below and all other compressed air powered tools.

Choosing the optimum grit size is essential and also the correct grit type.Abrasive papers and grits When using abrasive papers and grits it is important to use the grit sizes recommended in the SRM. a very accurate hole needs to be made and a jig may be needed to ensure accurate hole alignment in addition to the precise hole size required. filtered air may be used. will not contaminate the adhesive or bonding agents. or CO2 gas. Speed and feed rates The wrong cutting speed or feed rate can cause heat or mechanical damage and /or delamination of composite parts. Reamers When mechanical fasteners are used that require either a close tolerance hole. Suitable grades of 3M Scotchbrite abrasive pads may also be recommended in the SRM. slow-feed technique is preferred. Aluminum oxide and silicon carbide are the most commonly used grits. or non-oil-containing freon. The composite should not be heated to above 60oC (140oF) to minimise this risk. Air cooling. Check the SRM for the correct values. Diamond Wheel trimmers . See Ref: 1 for more detail. The Boelube range are based on cetyl alcohol (C16H34O) also known as Hexadecanol or nHexadecyl alcohol. a high-speed. As a general rule. Lubrication and cooling Another factor to be considered when machining composites with any of the tooling mentioned above. These will not ingress the fibers or resins. See Ref:1. which is a good indicator of the temperature around the drill and helps to avoid exceeding 60oC (140oF). using clean. thus keeping the drill bit cool is a major concern. and may be removed easily by alcohol solvents or a mild detergent rinse. will not cause outgassing in honeycomb structures. Approved lubricants are alcohol lubricants from the BOELUBE family of cutting agents. Drilling above the resin Tg may cause clogging and prevent material removal. too large a grit size will cause deep scratches and may remove more material than intended and hence lead to a larger repair. One of the problems of serious structural repairs with mechanical fasteners is going to be tooling to ensure accurate alignment of holes and close tolerance holes. See Ref:1. but especially when drilling holes. However. Composite parts are not good at conducting heat away from drilling. This a waxy solid of melting point 49oC (120oF). is the need to avoid heating the composite to the point where the glass transition temperature of the resin is exceeded. or a small degree of interference fit. Too fine a grit size will cause frictional heat and a slow rate of material removal.

Some interior panels may be coated with Tedlar. Parts that may need frequent removal for inspection or maintenance may need very accurate jigging so that any replacement parts will be certain to fit. Conductive coatings are added to give protection from lightning strikes and take several forms. 2. to remember that any such coatings must be replaced and their electrical conductivity checked as part of the repair process. Composite components can either be. . It is important. Primers and paints are the first thought when finishes are mentioned. 3. flame-sprayed aluminum. Finishing processes The quality of finish required is likely to depend on whether or not the part can be seen by passengers. Special finishing films of adhesive or resin are sometimes applied when a particularly good finish is required. They are designed to cut quickly and to give a good edge finish. and metal-coated fabrics or expanded foil mesh may be used. a) Bonded together using suitable film or paste adhesives b) or they can be mechanically fastened using a range of special fasteners for this process. many other coatings are used for a range of purposes 1.These are used mainly for cutting panel edges to shape and use diamond-tipped cutting wheels. However. The quality of surface finish on the mold used to make the part is also critical as the slightest mark on the mold will be repeated in the surface resin of the cured part. Quite often a combination of these is used and assembly may be by bonding in some areas and fastening in others or joints can be both bolted and bonded to provide extra security and fatigue resistance. They may be neoprene or polyurethane rubber boots for radomes or erosion resistant paints of various types or they may be titanium or stainless steel sheets formed to the shape required. They are needed to protect composite parts from environmental effects such as moisture and ultra-violet rays. tailplane and fin leading edges and the leading edges of helicopter blades. Assembly processes. Complex assembly jigs may be required to ensure the precise location of critical parts such as hinges in undercarriage doors or attachment lugs for empennage components. Fillers can be used and the surface rubbed down by hand in some cases. wing leading edges. Erosion-resistant coatings are used on radomes. when repairing composites. Polyvinyl fluoride(PVF) to keep out moisture and provide an easily cleaned surface. Metal foils. It may also be a wing or empennage leading edge and a smooth finish may be needed to ensure smooth airflow. Speedtape or a thin coat of sealant may provide temporary protection for a small amount of allowable damage that is awaiting repair.

which are attached to the skins and to the spars at each end. undercarriage doors. the use of rudder. Some of these are ailerons. They may use aramid honeycomb. Similarly.Whatever the coating if it has to be removed. floor panels. will apply severe torsion loads to the fuselage. glass or aramid fabric. Often no great strength is required in some fairing panels but stiffness is needed to maintain their shape. bolted or attached by both methods. but not always. trailing edge falsework panels. galleys. The wing skins use a ply lay-up designed to give good torsional stiffness to the wings as well as good bending strength. which until recently. aluminum alloy honeycomb. They are used because sandwich panels are light. The lower wing skin takes tension loads in flight and some compression load on the ground whereas the upper skin is in compression during flight but carries some tension loading on the ground and more in the case of a heavy landing. and fuselage skins. various types of foam or balsa wood as core materials. flap screw jack fairings. wing to body fairings. engine cowlings. Thoughts for the future . aluminum honeycomb is used in panels with skins of aluminum alloy and composite-skinned panels usually use aramid or glass honeycomb or foam cores. stiff structures. especially in the event of engine failure on one side. Stiffened laminate applications Stiffened laminate applications are usually wing and empennage main torque box skins and spars. rudders. overhead stowage bins etc. Usually. radomes. which can be obtained at a low weight. Because of their light construction. to repair a component then it must be replaced before the repair is signed off as completed. Wing skin profile is maintained and air loads transferred to the spars by ribs. Twisting (torsion) loads are applied to the wing by engine thrust and reverse thrust and by the use of ailerons and spoilers. Most of these items are also readily removable so they can be replaced with a spare part while the repair is done and no delays are incurred. Sandwich structure applications These are much lighter structures often using skins of only two or three layers of a fairly thin carbon. stringers and frames. The latest aircraft are using very thick composite laminates for wing spars in addition to the heavy skin panels used in wing torque box structures previously made from aluminum alloy. elevators. it is likely that these parts will continue to be those most often in need of repair and the techniques for these have been available for a long time. in part or in whole. Fuselage skin laminates will be fairly thick in some places where bending or torsion loads are high. The wing skins themselves are stiffened with composite stringers which may be bonded. A5 Describe stiffened laminate and sandwich applications and structural properties. Likewise the horizontal stabiliser will apply bending loads to the fuselage when the elevators are used as will a heavy landing. These components employ skins that are themselves of thickness greater than needed for the skins used for sandwich panels. have been the concern of those repairing composites. These are the items. There are many applications of sandwich structures.

Keith. Commonwealth Drive. Warrendale. This is always the case when learning any new activity so keep that glossary handy. "Care and Repair of Advanced Composites". .Graham Bevan and William F. ISBN 0-7680-1062-4. Repairs will have to be made because these parts are too large and costly in time and money to replace. 400.B. No hand held drills for this job! Portable jigs that can hold the drills steady will be needed and the drills themselves will need to be of the controlled feed and speed type. L. They too will need locating jigs.Any major structural parts that do get damaged will take a lot of time and money to repair and new skills will have to be developed as experience dictates. PA 15096-0001. Cole II. This should be available on line and you can make reference to it any time you need a definition of some word that is new to you. Armstrong. It is certain that for major repairs using mechanical fasteners it will be the drilling of accurately aligned holes to the tolerances required that will give some problems. Reamers will almost certainly be required to achieve the tolerances needed for holes for mild interference type fasteners. Second edition. 2005. A6 Glossary of terms This document was compiled some time ago and has been updated several times. Ready made stringer sections will be needed or techniques for making these on site. USA. Published by SAE International. Useful acronyms AC: Airworthiness Circular AD: Airworthiness Directive ADL: Allowable Damage Limit BMS: Boeing Material Specification BVID: Barely Visible Impact Damage DER: Designated Engineering Representative (of the FAA) FAA: Federal Aviation Administration FAR: Federal Aviation Regulations M&P: Materials and Process (as in M&P Engineer) MPD: Maintenance Planning Document NDI: Non-Destructive Inspection OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer P/E: Pulse Echo ultrasonic inspection equipment PSE: Principal Structural Element RDL: Repair Damage Size Limit SRM: Structural Repair Manual References 1. Inevitably you will need to learn many new words.

2. USA. Du Pont External Affairs. . Machining and Repairing Composites of Kevlar. 1111. Tatnall Street. Cutting. DE 19898. Wilmington.

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