Rapid Tooling for Composites using Close Range Photogrammetry and Rapid Prototype Construction

Period of Performance: 11/06/2000 - 05/06/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Kazak Composites, Inc.
Woburn, MA 01801
Principal Investigator


A process for producing Rapid Tooling for Composites shall be developed to meet the shortcomings of present composite tooling methods for addressing low volume applications such as prototyping and repair. The RTC method embodies two technology developments. First, a rapid noncontact method is used to capture geometry definition of the part to be produced and create an accurate and full featured 3D model. Next, the 3D model is used to create a tool (usually a mold) using powerful rapid prototyping manufacturing equipment. The resulting RTC tool is dimensionally accurate and capable of lasting at least 10 molding cycles, yet is mush less expensive and quicker to produce than conventional composite tooling. Work shall be performed by Kazak in collaboration with a major airframe OEM that has both the need and some of the specialized equipment useful for the performance of this work. Rather than simply performing a paper study in Phase I, this program includes fabrication and characterization of a small proof-of-concept RTC tool, reducing time-to-market by at least one year.The program goal is to reduce soft tooling costs for composite molds by 80% and lead time by 60% while maintaining required dimensional accuracy, low CTE and low thermal mass. For the phased depot maintenance (PDM), standard depot level maintenance (SDLM) and in-service repair (ISR) performed by the Naval Air Depots, this will result in substantially reduced cost and improved turnaround time for composite part repairs. In addition, this will considerably simplify logistics associated with ordering or producing spares from the aircraft OEM or using their tooling. For development programs such as JSF, use of RTC tooling will greatly facilitate production of prototype composite airframe prototypes. The digital nature of the 3D information capture process means that an RTC service bureau can be remotely located and serve multiple composite tool customers. These customers can include the NADEP's, airframe OEM's, airline repair facilities and other low volume fabricators such as general aviation. Furthermore, there are multiple offshoots of the 3D modeling capability including product modeling for e-commerce/website display, 3D virtual showings for real estate sales, and 3D tourism.