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Tools: The Overlooked Part When Building Composite Aerospace Structures

By: , Posted on: June 24, 2020

Composite materials have been widely used in many applications due to their superior properties compared to metals coupled with their light weight. When it comes to aerospace structures, the weight of a material used can make the difference between an airplane flying or not. Composite parts are formed on tools also known as molds. Tools can be made from a myriad of materials. The material type, shape and complexity all depend upon the part and length of production run. 

The Boeing 787 used composites for 50% of its structure instead of traditional aluminum sheeting. The 787 flies 20% more efficiently than similarly-sized aircraft, making it Boeing’s most fuel-efficient aircraft.

Most aerospace parts need to be manufactured with an extreme amount of accuracy so that they can endure harsh conditions and environments for many years. To achieve such accuracy, every aspect of the build process needs to be perfected including the tools used for the job.

Composite material being laid down on a tool during the fabrication process of a part.
An airplane wing skin made from composite materials laid down on a tool during the fabrication process.
Additive manufacturing used to build a lamination tool

Details of how to manufacture and design these tools is rarely taught in universities and is usually based on experience from those that have done it before. This motivated me to write the new book: Tooling for Composite Aerospace Structures covering all aspects of the tool life cycle from material selection, design, manufacturing, and operation. This book also discusses unique aspects including the use of specialized modeling and simulation that can aid in the design process and other novel concepts for future tool design and manufacturing.

Modeling and simulation used to predict the displacement of composite parts during cure. These tools can aid engineers during the design process making informed decisions without the need to conduct expensive physical testing

Understanding the complexities and different facets of tooling will help students and early career engineers in making the right decisions adding to the value and efficiency of any organization.

About the book

  • Covers the entire lifecycle of tool design, starting with a discussion on composite materials and ending with new concepts and material
  • Introduces aspects of how to use modeling and simulation for tooling with detailed examples and validation data
  • Offers a list of materials and where they should be used depending on the application

The book is available to on the Elsevier store now. Enter code STC320 at the checkout to save up to 30%

About the Author

Zeaid Hasan has been working in the field of aerospace design, materials, analysis and manufacturing for the past 12 years. He has a PhD in aerospace engineering from Arizona State University and many other graduate degrees including applied mathematics, business and mechanical engineering. He worked at several companies including Boeing as a structures and liaison engineer as well as a project manager supporting a wide variety of platforms including the 787, 777X, NMA, and F18. He then worked at General Atomics where he supported many programs including the MQ25 where he was a project manager with the airframe integrated product team. He currently works at Boom supersonic where he is the principal materials and process engineer. He holds 8 patents and patent applications and is a registered professional engineer in 3 states. He is also an adjunct faculty at many universities across the US for the past 7 years teaching both math and engineering courses. Youtube:


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