Partners NASA and Boeing sought a disruptive innovation in tooling to support their development of a significantly lighter-weight space-flight propellant fuel tank.
Tapped Janicki’s expertise in designing and manufacturing advanced composite tooling that goes beyond existing technologies.
Extremely innovative approach to the use of advanced composites in space flight structures.
Propellant tanks for the launch vehicles have typically been made of aluminum. Composite tanks have the potential to significantly reduce the cost and weight for heavy-lift launch vehicles and for other future in-space missions.
Janicki has designed and fabricated a 2.4-meter-diameter concept test tool. This composite tool has been used to make the largest composite propellant tank ever produced using out-of-autoclave processing. Boeing produced the composite tank, which is now undergoing testing at NASA’s laboratories.
Janicki has just complete manufacturing a 5.5-meter-diameter tool that is scheduled for part production by Boeing, and testing by NASA, in early 2014.
Specific Engineering Challenges:
- Internally collapsible composite tool needed to be extracted through holes on either end
- Secondary integrated layup tool indexed at each end of sphere and defined by cylindrical skirt tools
- Layup surface for cylindrical skirt
- Tank is cured, laid-up around skirt, skirts must hold vacuum, skirts extract o/o end
- Support out-of-autoclave process to produce the composite tank.
Breakthrough project for all three collaborators.
- Significant advances for NASA’s space flight structures
- Significant advances for Boeing’s manufacturing and parts production processes
- Significant advances in composite tool design/analysis and manufacture for Janicki Industries