F-35 composites process wins innovation award

The award, presented during the JEC Composites Show in Paris in April, was in recognition of the cured laminate compensation (CLC) process – a composite manufacturing process for achieving precision, as-built laminate thickness without costly post-cure machining.

This process is used in the production of composite parts for the F-35. It was developed specifically to pre-measure and correct the thickness of cured composite wing skins for the F-35.

The technology will result in significant cost savings to global security company Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and its F-35 global supply network.

"The award spotlights a highly innovative process in the most innovative fighter production system ever devised," explains Mike Packer, Lockheed Martin vice president of Manufacturing Strategy & Processes. "This process increases production of right-first-time composite parts, using both MSI's Ply Compensation™ System (PCS™) and Nikon Metrology's Laser Radar technology."

The cured laminate compensation process takes composite parts produced slightly outside of engineering tolerances, and builds them up into finished parts that satisfy all structural and engineering requirements. Early in the process, the Laser Radar measuring system from Nikon Metrology identifies the specific surface areas on the composite parts that need geometry compensation.

The process could also be used by manufacturers of wind turbine blades, super yachts and cars.

The F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft is being developed by Lockheed Martin together with partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.