Mold process improves aircraft production

The Sling is a lightweight aluminum and composite aircraft.
The Sling is a lightweight aluminum and composite aircraft.

Sicomin, which makes epoxy systems, and its South African composite materials distributor, Aerontec, have been working with The Airplane Factory (TAF) to help improve production methods for the company’s range of Sling aircraft.

The Sling is a lightweight aluminum and composite aircraft which can be purchased as a fully constructed and test flown aircraft or as a home build kit. Previously the composite undercarriage was wet laminated and then cut to shape, but the very thick glass epoxy laminate was difficult to laminate and trim and TAF required a more efficient and less labor intensive alternative.

The original wet lamination process was replaced through the development of a new net-shape, two-part infusion mold which allowed the undercarriage of the Sling 2 and Sling 4 aircraft to be infused using Sicomin's SR8100 epoxy systems, a low viscosity product which can wet out thick glass laminates.

SR8100 is designed specifically for infusion and resin transfer molding (RTM) techniques and has secured Lloyd's Register and Germanischer Lloyd approvals. It is currently utilised by industrial, marine, energy, transportation, sports and leisure customers.

Sicomin's SR1126 fire retardant epoxy is used to make the composite components of the certified version of the Sling 2 aircraft, the Sonaca S200. The canopy front arch, air vents, cowlings and the cockpit interior are all laminated with the aerospace, FST approved system. The Sling 2 parts are laminated in glass fiber molds and post-cured at an elevated temperature following demolding.

This story uses material from Sicomin, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.