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Advanced Tooling Systems

Smart Bladders™

Smart Bladders act as rigid mandrels during lay-up and inflatable bladders during cure. After composite material is applied on a rigid bladder, it is placed in a cure mold. Once the Smart Bladder is heated above its activation temperature, it is inflated to consolidate the composite part during cure. While above its activation temperature, pressure is removed and the flexible Smart Bladder can be low force extracted from the cured part and reformed to begin the next fabrication cycle.

Smart Bladder Process

Form

Form

A Smart Bladder is placed in a form mold, heated above its activation temperature, pressurized, and then cooled.

Lay-up

After applying a release agent, composite material is applied to the rigid, formed bladder. Debulk can be done as necessary.

Cure

The laid-up bladder is secured in a cure tool and plumbed for pressure. Above the minimum pressurization temperature during the part cure cycle, the bladder is inflated to apply pressure to the composite.

Extract

After the part is cured and pressure is released at a temperature above the activation temperature of the bladder, the elastic bladder is easily removed from the cured composite part.

Repeat

The extracted bladder is placed into a heated form tool, pressurized, and cooled to begin the next fabrication cycle while the cured part completes its cooling cycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smart Bladder Material Selection Chart

Smart Bladder Material
Minimum Pressurization Temperature (°F)
Forming Temperature (°F)
Operational Temperature (°F) up to
Strain
E1-62
200
250
350 ±5%
≈10%
N2
200
250
350 ±5%
≈40%
J4
160
200
350 ±5%
≈25%

 

 

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