gmhTODAY 14 gmhToday May June 2017 - Page 54

JOIN THE TenCate TEAM … e: w: contact/careers/default.aspx In Morgan Hill, the advanced composite team coats carbon fibers, aramid, glass and other materials to form the basis for thousands of products. In this company where they combine the fibers with resins, it is not hard to see the company’s connections to centuries old weaving techniques combined with high-end technologies. End products like airplane skins or fire- proof flooring materials for aircraft are not manufactured here, but the material that eventually becomes these end products is. The Morgan Hill facility is a made- to-order operation. Customers select a product and in approximately 6-8 weeks it is ready to ship. The composites produced are sheets of exotic materials specific to customer requirements. Some of them are produced as an unset 54 epoxy, which is then frozen. When the customer receives the product they defrost it, set it in the mold or desired formation, and bake it. The components then fuse and take on the final character as specified by the client. The composites take on various strength, flexibility, and heat tolerance characteristics based on the layout of the weave, the actual fiber components, the amount or type of resin and the pattern of the layout. The size and number of the fibers and the amount of resin also change the properties of the advanced components. Components laid out in a linear 0-degree pattern are stronger than a 45-degree laminate. This is because carbon fiber like rope has strength in the tensile direction. For each strand of carbon fiber there might be thousands of threads. Resins GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MAY/JUNE 2017 are applied to the fibers with a film that precisely controls the amount of resin on the material. Materials produced in Morgan Hill ship all over the world. Aerospace is truly a global business. Client components vary radically. If it is a satellite solar array or structure, it might have to withstand 500-degree temperature variations without shrinking or expanding. If it is the skin for an airplane, it must be light yet impact-resistant. If it is beam for an air- craft wing, it must be light, but strong and have enough flex to withstand the forces of landing and taking off. For a radome (a dome or other struc- ture protecting electronic equipment and made from material transparent to radio waves, radar or Wi-Fi), it must protect the electronics, but also allow the radio waves to pass through