Composite Repair Developments Heat Up Aviation’s Aftermarket
1. Digitalizing Repairs
Company: GMI Aero
Product: GMI Aero provides a range of composite repair equipment and services to airlines, MROs and OEMs, including engineering solutions, training, field assistance services and its range of Anita portable hot bonders. Its newest Anita consoles leverage cloud connectivity to share composite repair data with stakeholders. GMI Aero recently released several network applications for these hot bonders to facilitate repair monitoring, transfer of curing data, reporting, remote maintenance, virtual training and the development of digital and physical repair twins. GMI Aero is also involved in several European research and development projects to innovate within composite repair, including the Evolved-5G project to digitalize composite repair processes using 5G infrastructure.
2. Data Innovations
Company: Specto Aerospace
Product: Netherlands-based composite repair provider Specto Aerospace specializes in lightweight primary and secondary structural components of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. It is also focused on providing value to OEMs as a “forward-operating shop.” Since its component repair operations give it access to a significant amount of product performance data—such as how components operate in the field and root causes of damage—it is pursuing efforts to map and share data. It has started to digitalize information streams using techniques such as 3D scanning, 3D printing and robotics to build a full digital twin environment. These advancements include technologies developed in-house, such as its ARThur (automated radome test range) and CASSy (cobot automated sanding system) innovations.
3. Heightened Heating
Company: Veelo Technologies
Product: Veelo Technologies provides out-of-autoclave (OoA) heating products for composite processing and repair, including heated vacuum bags, heated cauls, heated tooling and hot bonders. Its VeeloHeat technology is deployed in flexible, conformable heater blankets and mats for on-aircraft repair, article repair, bonded structures, and planar or complex geometries. Veelo says its products offer heat uniformity, conformability and advanced process control, which reduce costs and improve quality. For example, it says its VeeloHeat Caul saved the U.S. Navy millions of dollars on maintaining Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft. It recently released a new OoA heated tool for composite processing, HyVarCVeeloHEAT, in partnership with Ascent Aerospace. It says the tool lowers costs compared with traditional autoclaves, reduces operating footprint, and provides faster processing times and rapid prototyping capabilities.
4. New Product Lineup
Company: Heatcon Composite Systems
Product: Established in 1978, Heatcon Composite Systems manufactures OoA composite curing equipment, thermal process equipment and aerospace-quality heating blankets for customers across the aviation and defense industries. It recently developed several new composite repair products. These include: the HCS9306 six-zone version of its hot bonder, which automatically controls and monitors multiple zones of heating simultaneously with more than 60 ft.2 of coverage; its Smart Susceptor hot bonder, which uses an active heating circuit to limit temperatures on complex structures during curing to improve temperature uniformity by up to 300%; and its DIRT Bag (deployable isolation repair technology) single-use system to keep contaminants out of repair areas and remove particulates from the atmosphere. Heatcon also distributes composite materials and offers consultation and training services.
5. Patented Technology
Product: Based in Columbus, Ohio, BriskHeat has specialized in composite repairs for more than 70 years. It manufactures a range of composite repair equipment for the aviation industry, including hot bonders, flexible heaters, radome heaters, cloth heaters and vacuum tables. BriskHeat’s products incorporate its patented multistranded resistance wire, which it says provides unmatched durability and flexibility. Its easily transportable ACR series hot bonders and silicone rubber heating blankets enable aircraft composite repairs on-site, which reduces aircraft on ground time, BriskHeat says. In addition to its product line, BriskHeat offers technical advice and training for composite curing and repair applications. It plans to announce a new major product release in 2023.