Last week, Coast Composites LLC, an Ascent Tooling Group company, announced it won a contract from Boeing to manufacture the largest-ever wing skin molds for the Boeing 777X. According to an October 20 press release, Ascent will produce a set of lay-up tooling, consisting of four individual molds, to be used at Boeing’s new facility in Everett, Wash., to manufacture the 777X’s composite wing skins.
Coast Composites will manufacture the molds with its modular tool building system with patented laser technology that the company has used to make 26 previous wing skin mold builds. The tooling segments will be made with Invar, a custom steel alloy that matches the thermal expansion properties of the composite material used for the wing skin. The final wing skin tools will be more than 110 feet long, up to 21 feet wide and will weigh approximately 80,000 pounds each.
“As aircraft evolve, our capabilities, designs and processes have advanced to meet new challenges,” said Paul Walsh, President and COO of Ascent Tooling Group. “We developed our innovative modular tool building system to accommodate the ever-increasing size of aircraft tooling.”
In a separate October 20 announcement, Coast Composites said it has been also contracted to produce a sixth set of wing skin molds for the Airbus A350 XWB. Following Coast Composites’ delivery of the first set for the A350-1000 in May, Airbus announced in late August that it had begun the assembly process of the A3350-1000 XWB wing. Like the Boeing 777X tooling, the A350-1000 XWB will also incorporate a combination of the company’s patented laser technology and Invar tooling.