In the upcoming September/October issue of Composites Manufacturing, we discuss the future of Out-of-Autoclave (OOA) and Out-of-Oven (OOO) manufacturing with several companies at the forefront of these processes. Manufacturers in aerospace and other industries are increasingly turning to OOA to cure parts only in an oven. Out-of-Autoclave is less capital-intensive and less costly, especially as parts increase in size and number.
HEATCON, Inc., a stocking distributor of electric heating and control products, is one of those companies. HEATCON Composite Systems’ focus primarily involves the use of bonder controllers in an out-of-autoclave/oven environment. Eric Casterline, president of HEATCON Composite Systems, discussed his thoughts on OOA and OOO further with Composites Manufacturing Interviews. Check out a sneak peek of the article in our upcoming magazine issue here, then be sure to subscribe to the digital edition of Composites Manufacturing, available next week!
How would you describe the state of OOA and OOO?
I would describe it as healthy, driven by the need to support the advent of increasing composites’ use in commercial transports. Autoclave and oven processing will always be the norm to support manufacturing, but out-of-normal processing is also frequently required to support manufacturing, such as rejected parts that are subject to repair disposition. Acknowledging that autoclave processing is appropriate for complex parts manufacturing is on an on-going basis. However, autoclaves tend to be less economical for small quantity curing jobs which may be more appropriate for portable bonders and controls.
How has OOA/OOO evolved in the past several years?
The increasing use of composites has added to the complexity of their applications. In particular, larger area repairs and structural issues related to this complexity make technician skills and innovations even more important to achieve thermal uniformity. Since composite properties are created during the curing process of composites, reliability and ease-of-use continues to be an ever-increasing focus by HEATCON in its product offerings.
What direction do you see OOA/OOO going in the next several years?
From HEATCON’s standpoint, we see increased complexity of composite applications in terms of size, thickness and shape of produced parts. The ease of use of bonders will be increasingly important as greater numbers of skilled technicians will be required to support the industry. I also see the role of training evolving in three areas: overview education for middle and senior management; technician skill training; and possible certification, based on industry standards, of technicians in the ‘art’ of composite repair technology.