Ducommun's VersaCore Composite™ structural technologies provide unique benefits to aerostructures.
Low Part Count. Net molding the core dramatically reduces the part count. A complicated core is molded net to shape as one part. Using honeycomb, or machined foam core, can result in a complicated assembly of machined pieces, core splices, and tolerance stack ups.
De-toleranced. The net molding of the foam core allows it to be used as a binder supporting other components. For example ribs or attachment fittings can be held in place during the core molding. During the RTM (resin transfer molding) step the outer skins are molded in place perfectly matching the core. There are no tolerance stack ups. Using conventional manufacturing methods such as pre-cured skins and bonded assembly results in a stack up of tolerance or using liquid shims to achieve the final configuration.
Seamless Construction. Parts can be fabricated without any bonded seams with all of the plies wrapping around edges. The seamless appearance of the finished part reduces cost in finishing / filling edges, eliminates the need for secondary bonds, and can result in a clean aerodynamic and RCS surface without any secondary processing.
Integrated Component Design. A key element in the Ducommun VersaCore Composite™ process is design-for-integration. Parts fabricated with the VersaCore Composite™ technology have the advantages of lower part count and fewer manufacturing labor hours. When compared to conventional designs such as a bolted or secondarily bonded wing, for example, a Ducommun VersaCore Composite™ design relies on structural foam cores that provide integrity and support primary load path among integral fiber reinforced components. Fewer parts and the elimination of secondary bonding or mechanical fastening results in fewer touch labor hours as well as fewer subcomponent parts to manufacture and inventory.
Fast Cycle Times. The cycle time, time from the beginning of part fabrication until completion, can be very short. All of the assembly steps are combined with the foam molding. With conventional manufacturing there would be a number of sub assembly steps. The foam molding and RTM steps can be done in less than 1 day.
Supported Skins / Closed Cell. Eliminating the hollow cavities in the structures and filling them with closed cell foam increases the resistance to damage in handling and assembly. Damage to the skins is prevented from causing delaminations or allowing water to enter the core. Since the skins are backed up by the foam, simple field repairs are possible.
Reproducibility. All surfaces of the parts are tooled, eliminating fit problems associated with bonded assemblies. Attachment fittings are positioned into the tool prior to fabricating the cores, ensuring reproducibility.
Tooling. Using Ducommun's VersaCore Composite™ structural technology has brought novel approaches to tool design. The 'out of autoclave' manufacturing process saves significantly on costs in facility requirements and lends itself to ease of portability. The tooling process is based on integrally heated tools that are rigid, dimensionally stable and capable of developing the required pressures for material processing. Additionally, these tools have incorporated hydraulic and pneumatic actuation devices that assist a single operator in the opening and transfer of finished components out of the tool for high rate production.
VersaCore Composite™ is a trademark of Ducommun Incorporated.