HEATCON improves process control in composites repair

The network controller is designed to maintain uniform temperatures as multiple hot bonders are used to repair large areas of composite parts.

“With large-area repairs, the difficulty in maintaining uniform temperature increases thermal characteristics of the part as well as the limitations of large heat blankets," explains HEATCON President Eric Casterline.

"This has created a unique need for the network controller in the composites market.”

Hot bonders, heat blankets and other equipment from Seattle, USA, based HEATCON are used to repair composite aircraft components that require bonding processes. The network controller was designed to address advanced repair designs required for the newest airplanes and helicopters. The increased use of composites for commercial airlines has created a need for equipment to address the challenge of ensuring proper cure cycles over large repair areas, which supports processes from manufacturers and regulatory agencies as they become approved.

The geometrically complex shapes in the newest aircraft, which use increasing amounts of composite materials, will require more sophisticated repairs. Many of these advanced repair techniques can be better addressed using the network controller, HEATCON says.

“Substructure under a laminate surface can act as a heat sink, increasing the possibility of non-uniform temperature cures,” Casterline reports.

“The network controller has the capability of addressing advanced repair designs required for the latest aircraft. It allows coordination of a number of repair zones and has the ability to handle complex and demanding repair scenarios.”

Using a single bonder to fix large areas of a composite part makes it difficult to control the temperature throughout the entire repair area. A typical bonder managing two repair zones may not provide sufficient coverage for controlling critical temperatures throughout the entire repair area.

Connecting several bonders to the new network controller lets technicians provide uniform temperatures, which improves the integrity of the part being repaired, HEATCON reports.