Carrying out composite repair jobs can be complex. It’s crucial to get every detail right; mistakes can lead to weak frames or insufficient results. When repairing composite materials for vehicles such as aircrafts or boats, it’s especially critical that everything is done correctly for the safety of their passengers.
Use the following tips to ensure you’re on your way to a successful composite repair job:
1. Determine the repair process before you begin
Before getting started on any composite repair job, it’s important to understand all the steps you need to take. Because composite repair is a time-sensitive operation, having all materials and equipment within reach is critical, as is understanding the sequence in which the steps must be carried out.
Some composite defects require only a small fix, while others will necessitate a large patch or additional parts. Depending on the damaged area, repair could take place on a workbench, on the object itself or only in a specific environment, requiring the parts to be transported to another facility. For example, certain aircraft structural repairs need to be completed in an autoclave, while other parts aren’t suited to be placed in these machines, Airbus explained.
2. Check your work environment
Having a clean, organized work environment is ideal for most projects, but it’s especially crucial when applying composite repairs. The temperature of the room and parts can mean the difference between a strong bond that lasts and a weak seal that needs to be repaired shortly after work is completed. Additionally, the wrong ambient temperature can slow down the cure time, pushing the timeline for a repair job out longer than expected.
According to Composite Manufacturing, the room temperature should be between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for composite repair jobs. Any cooler and composites may take a long time to cure, and the bond may not be as strong as desired. Parts, too, should be on the warm side; if your workshop or job site is chilly, consider using a heat gun to warm parts as needed.
3. Double-check equipment and parts
Take the time to check that all equipment is functioning properly and you’ve collected the correct, high-quality parts. Again, because composite repair work is time-sensitive, double-checking these aspects before you begin your work can help catch mistakes before they become big problems.
Many composite repair jobs require a heat gun. However, because the materials used in composite structures are heat-sensitive and their temperatures must be controlled precisely, it’s important to use a high-quality model. The Proheat 1600 STC Heat Gun from Master Appliance is a multi-use tool that’s excellent for composite repair tasks. It is the only heat gun on the market that has the capability of automatically controlling it’s heat output to reach and maintain the desired target temperature. Set the target temperature on the heat gun’s digital readout and let the heat gun’s programming do the rest, minimizing the risk of overheating materials.