Making the mold: New machine to save time, money

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
The 573rd Commodities Maintenance Squadron now possesses a brand new plastic thermo forming machine in Bldg. 670 that will enhance the composites shop's future capabilities.

The $28,500 machine arrived at Robins several weeks ago. While the machine is still being prepared for use, F-15 glare shield samples have already been produced, highlighting exciting possibilities for the future of manufacturing here.

"This will not only save a lot of time, but also money," said Chad Lemoine, 573rd Composites Shop plastic worker. "We'll be able to get a lot of use out of this. As long as there's a mold, you can make anything you want."

Once a 3-D mold is created of an aircraft part, a plastic sheet made of Lexan or Plexiglas, for example, are placed over the mold on the machine's tray. A heating element is then rolled over the top, and a vacuum conforms the plastic to the mold. It can form parts measuring up to 4 by 8 feet.

An aircraft glare shield, for example, can be produced and trimmed in as little as 30 minutes. Its addition to the production line will not only enable Robins to produce more composite parts in-house that are currently manufactured by private industry, but will also bring in new workload for the facility.