CEM has a significant in-house expertise in the design, analysis, and manufacture of composite structures used in high performance rotating machines. To aid in rapidly prototyping complex composite structures with known mechanical properties, the Center developed a Composite Analysis tool called CEMWIND that generate detailed material property data that can be exported to finite element analysis codes, along with programs that control fiber placement and orientation in the filament winding machine.
This dedicated low lab space equipped with environmental controls houses a McClean Anderson 5-axis CNC filament winding machine. The system is capable of processing parts up to 66 in. in diameter and 40 ft long using both wet winding and pre-impregnated fiber tows. The winding machine has been modified with a specially designed fiber payout system to enable processing of high modulus graphite fibers with minimal fiber damage.
The newest winding machine in this lab is an ENTEC 5-axis CNC filament winding machine installed at the end of the McClean Anderson machine. It has been modified to accommodate heavy mandrels up to 15 ft long. This machine has also been modified with a special payout system for advanced graphite and glass fiber systems used in high performance rotors.
In addition, the high bay is equipped with a dedicated autoclave, manufactured by American Autoclave, to cure composite structures. The fully programmable autoclave is rated for 650° F and 250 psig and can process composite parts with diameters up to 7 ft and 11 ft long. The autoclave can process a range of materials including epoxies, cyanate esters, BMIs, some lower temperature polyimides, and thermoplastics.
In addition to the autoclave, the facility includes a 12 ft x 20 ft curing oven with programmable time/temperature profiles for curing wet wound and resin transfer molded (RTM) composite structures and adhesively bonded assemblies.