Carbon Foam Composite Tooling

Period of Performance: 08/18/2004 - 08/18/2006


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd.
The Millennium Centre Array
Triadelphia, WV 26059
Principal Investigator


Touchstone Research Laboratory has developed a novel material, CFOAMr. The primary enabling carbon foam characteristic is that the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) values are comparable to carbon fiber polymer matrix systems in manufacturing advanced composites. Other advantages of carbon foam-based tools are low mass, reduced energy, easy modifications, unmatched repair capabilities, and reduced cycle times. The primary competitive advantage is the 50% acquisition and life-cycle cost savings. In Phase I, Touchstone, Alliant Tech Systems (ATK), and Vanguard Composites demonstrated the concept of using carbon foam-based tooling for large aerospace composite part manufacturing. Trade studies were completed and a sub-scale demonstration tool fabricated, a sub-scale version of a THAAD Kill Vehicle Mid-Body heat shield. Quality hybrid composite parts were produced from the tool. The full-scale THAAD tool will be produced in Phase II. The Phase II effort involves moving the development process into rate MDA manufacturing programs. ATK will assist the effort with a parallel case study; manufacturing an Atlas V composite conic adapter with CFOAM tooling. A Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 8 will be achieved with demonstrations on two MDA-related programs, THAAD and the Atlas V launch system.