Standard Inline Non-destructive Determination of Prepreg Resin Impregnation Level

Period of Performance: 01/11/2016 - 01/11/2018

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nokomis, Inc.
310 5th St. Array
Charleroi, PA 15022
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

ABSTRACT: The Level of Impregnation (LOI) of resin in prepregged composite materials is critical to the quality and performance of finished Out-Of-Autoclave (OOA) composites. The widespread transition to OOA composites is reliant upon consistent material manufacture, which is jeopardized by the lack of a test methodology capable of accurately measuring LOI. Test techniques currently in practice are inadequate and they cannot be applied inline during the manufacturing process, resulting in out-of-spec material remaining unidentified until the conclusion of production runs and creating unacceptable yield losses. Air Force acquisition costs and total ownership costs are significantly reduced by the development of an accurate LOI measurement technology. Nokomis has developed a unique nondestructive method for inline LOI measurements based upon air-coupled acoustic spectroscopy. This Phase II effort will build upon the success of Phase I results, automating the developed LOI measurement technique, enhancing its accuracy, validating its performance, implementing it in a prototype system, and demonstrating its broad applicability towards material utilized by current Air Force programs, such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Nokomis will validate the prototype systems performance against a range of relevant OOA composites through demonstration to the Government and industry stakeholders at the conclusion of the effort.; BENEFIT: Nokomis LOI measurement technology will increase mission assurance for Air Force programs due to enhanced system reliability. Results will directly aid materials manufacturers by identifying out-of-spec material early in the manufacture process, providing substantial cost and time savings. By transitioning the LOI measurement system to manufacturers within the Air Force supply chain, Nokomis maximizes the impact that the technology will have on improving Air Force system reliability while reducing acquisition costs and providing total lifetime ownership cost savings. As Nokomis proposed test methodology can be applied inline, real-time results can be obtained on material LOI consistency over multiple production runs and across the manufactured roll. Manufacturers can utilize real-time assessments to make immediate adjustments, reducing the quantity of material produced below specification. This results in overall material, time, and labor cost reduction that facilitates the acquisition and sustainment of Air Force aircraft. While development efforts will focus on addressing Air Force needs, Nokomis anticipates that the developed technology will provide similar benefits to other Department of Defense agencies that employ similar prepreg composite materials, achieving broad cost reductions across multiple programs. Nokomis will additionally pursue commercial markets such as domestic aerospace firms that utilize prepreg composites in modern airframes.