In 2008 bf1systems opened its first composites facility, which was then expanded and upgraded in 2015 to increase capabilities for parts to be produced for the motorsport, automotive, sports and aerospace markets.
The current facility carries both ISO9001, and also AS9100 Rev. C quality accreditation. Parts can be produced either on a build to print basis, or the design of the composite part and tooling can also be completed by bf1systems.
The first stage in the laminating of a composite part is the ply cutting.
All raw composite materials are stored at -18°C in our 6m x 6m x 2.7m walk in freezer. The composite is taken from the freezer and loaded onto the computer controlled Zund M1200 cutting table.
Using the automated ply cutting machine beings the following advantages:
- Increased repeatability
- Increased accuracy of material orientation and overlaps
- Reduced lead times
- Reduced wastage of raw material through optimisation of the ply layout in the PC software
All the plies are then transported with the tooling into our 15m x 7m Class 8 ISO clean room which is accecsed via a with 6m x 4m air lock where they are placed into the mould according to the lay-up book, building up the number of plies in areas where strength is required.
A variety of materials can be used to make up a part including carbon, glass and kevlar, depending on what properties are required from the finished part.
Once all the plies are laid into the mould, the assembly is placed into a vacuum bag, which aids the curing process. This is then transported to our autoclave room, and placed into our 4m x 1.7m autoclave, which is capable of curing at up to 200psi and 350°C.
The autoclave features data logging equipment for all key parameters during the cure cycle. The logged data is reviewed after the cure to ensure the cure cycle was completed successfully.
Once a part has finished its curing cycle in the autoclave, it is removed and taken to the de-moulding room where it is removed from the mould, and then transferred to the trim room for trimming, which removes flashes of resin and excess material to ensure the part is safe to handle
During the trimming process, additional features can be added to the composite part, such as holes.
The trim room at bf1systems has full extraction, along with a 2.5m x 2m downdraft bench, as well as a range of air tools and other tools.
Prior to desaptch, all composite parts must pass through final inspection. This is housed within a dedicated part of the composites facility, and inspection equipment includes a 3.7m 6 axis Faro arm.
As part of the inspection process, the mechanical inspectors can produce relevant documentation including First Article Inspection Reports (FAIR) and Production Parts Approval Process (PPAP), whilst also issuing Certicates of Conformity (COC), if required.
All composite parts produced at bf1systems are fully traceable, back through the supply chain.