C-CAT - Kennedale, TX
Case Study Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies, Inc. (C-CAT) - Kennedale, TX

Prototyping Eliminates Tooling, Nets Millions in Savings

Building complex prototypes can often grind a budget and timeline into mincemeat. With declining funds for space programs and tight budgets in the aerospace industry, every dollar spent is vital…every dollar saved is survival. Serving those industries, Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies, INC, (C-CAT) has taken steps to drive new efficiencies into longstanding practices. And their resourcefulness has yielded big rewards and quality products.

C-CAT is a privately owned corporation and high-tech manufacturer specializing in the development of carbon-carbon structures for aerospace and commercial applications. The company was originally founded by Francis Schwind in June 1988. Schwind gained extensive experience working on thermal protection systems for the nose cap and leading edges on the Space Shuttle during the 1970s. This endeavor led to the carbon-carbon production environment that exists today. His fledgling company would go on to produce 2D prototype test liners for the Pratt & Whitney 119 engine.

In 2006, C-CAT expanded and relocated to a new headquarters in Kennedale, Texas near Forth Worth. Their state-of-the-art facility has oxidation protected carbon-carbon component manufacturing capabilities, including composite curing equipment, pyrolysis and densification equipment, a machine shop for tooling and components, coating furnaces, and a variety of ovens and test furnaces, and quality control inspection equipment. Current on-stream equipment is sized to process a 5 ft. x 10 ft. (1.5 x 3.1m) panel or 70 inch (1.8m) diameter nozzle through coating.

What is Carbon-Carbon?
Carbon-carbon or C/C is a composite material comprised of carbon fiber reinforcement in a matrix of graphite. C/C has gained a space-worthy reputation due to its high temperature resistance withstanding temperatures from 3,200 to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1760 – 2204°C). And the material becomes stronger as it gets hotter. Components constructed from C/C will hold their shape and remain relatively sound under serious duress. Industry insiders say if the Space Shuttle was being built today, the lower half of the wing skins and panels would more than likely be constructed of carbon-carbon, as the structure would be substantially lighter and much less complex.

Enter Laser Trackers and Metrology Assisted-Assembly
Narayanan was well aware of metrologyassisted assembly, and saw it in action at Lockheed Martin on the F-35 production line. For this operation, they employ laser trackers and a custom jacking system to align the large parts of the aircraft instead of having a complex jig to connect the main body with the wings and the nose section. He also had experience using portable metrology devices from past experience working for a nose radome manufacturer. Laser trackers were used for building tooling, taking aircraft measurements, measuring tight tolerances, part mating, assembly and reverse engineering applications.

C-CAT introduced a Leica LTD700 laser tracker to their program in 2004, and has added a Leica Absolute Tracker recently. Both portable CMMs are ideally suited for data acquisition and inspection applications within a large measurement volume. The Absolute tracker combines the measurement principles of the absolute distance meter and an interferometer. With multiple built-in redundancies, the Absolute Interferometer technology ensures high-accuracy measurements in all operating conditions throughout the measurement volume, which can reach a full 262 feet (80 m) when used with a corner cube, or 98 feet (30 m) when used with a wireless Leica T-Probe...

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