Written by Sara Black, Composites World
Washout mandrels have been a traditional choice, but Advanced Ceramics Mfg. (Tucson, Ariz.) says it has taken them to the next level, with its RapidCore mandrel manufacturing process, which eliminates mandrel tooling. A mandrel is “printed” directly from the customer’s CAD file, using an additive manufacturing process (see “The rise of rapid manufacturing,” under “Editor’s Picks,” at top right) and material system, based on the company’s water-soluble materials.
When it is complete, the mandrel is coated with a fluoropolymer tape to protect it from water and is then used for part layup. Mandrels can be created in a fraction of the time required for plaster or eutectic salts and possess a compressive strength greater than 100 psi/6.89 bar and a thermal degradation temperature of approximately 350°F/177°C, which is consistent with industry-standard autoclave parameters. After part cure, the RapidCore material is simply washed out with water.