Ascent Aerospace is the preeminent manufacturer of Invar tooling used to produce flight-critical composite parts and structures for next generation aircraft and spacecraft. These tooling systems include layup molds, stringer placement locating tools, bond tools and cure tools, ranging from small to very large.
Metallic tooling systems for composite parts production are typically manufactured from Invar 36, an alloy of iron and nickel, known for its low coefficient of thermal expansion – an essential feature to achieve tolerances of composites during the cure cycle. Tools are also fabricated from materials such as steel and aluminum, where expansion coefficient is not a concern.
Our Coast Composites (California) and Odyssey Industries (Michigan) facilities are fully equipped to perform every facet of tool fabrication. These capabilities make us truly vertically integrated, giving us greater control over timing and schedules and 100% accountability. Plus, it avoids costly mark-ups, which saves our customers money.
Large (>80’ long) and medium tooling
Small tool focused factory
Laser tracking systems allow surface tolerances of +/- .005”
Largest 5-axis machining capacity in the aerospace tooling industry
Competitive pricing on materials, as the largest purchaser of Invar in the aerospace industry
Extensive inventory of standard Invar sizes eliminates material lead time and allows for immediate start to tool build
Steel, aluminum and other metals can be utilized, when appropriate
On-site thermal processing to 75’ x 25 x 14’ (22.9m x 7.6m x 4.3m)
Modular Invar Tool Manufacturing and Laser Welding Process
As aircraft evolve, our capabilities, designs and processes have advanced to meet new challenges. To accommodate the ever-increasing size of aircraft composite structures, Coast Composites developed an innovative modular tool building system, which makes it possible to efficiently deliver the largest, highest quality mold tools in the industry to anywhere in the world.
Coast Composites’ unique system for building extra-large Invar tools is based on a patented “deep penetration” laser welding technology. Invar segments small enough to transport on conventional roads are manufactured and shipped to the customer, then assembled onsite. Ascent’s traveling, laser-welding robot minimizes the heat-affected zone and does not introduce high thermal loads into the structure. This eliminates distortion, shrinkage and, most importantly, the requirement for post-heat treating. The finished tool can be joined in a vacuum tight weld in a matter of hours.
Our patented design is proven on more than 30 wing skin molds, including the largest ever produced.
Small Tool Focused Factories
Small tool focused factories
The small tool focused factory is a dedicated value stream that utilizes the single-piece flow concept, instead of utilizing the various process-based departments. Tools going through the focused factory are produced more efficiently, with lower overhead. Savings are passed along to the customer and short lead times are assured.
Invar, steel or aluminum tools
Layup tooling, drill jigs, mill fixtures
Tolerances of +/- .005” on surface contour and hole position
Dedicated staff of experienced tool makers
Engineering, project management and design resources are shared, while an experienced team of dedicated professionals staff the small tool focused factory, ensuring the exceptional quality and craftsmanship for which Coast Composites is recognized. Because smaller doesn’t mean lesser.
Tooling types and restrictions
Dimensions up to 144” x 40” x 30” (365cm x 101cm x 76cm)
Weldment or machined billet (Invar, steel or aluminum)
Rework of damaged or bent tools
4 week lead time begins when a digitally rendered model is approved; does not include shipping
Fabricated tools are thermally processed onsite. At Coast Composites, large heat treat ovens and autoclaves permit annealing of tools made of Invar, steel and high-temperature CFRP.
About Ascent Aerospace
Ascent Aerospace employs over 900 industry professionals, spanning ten companies globally and greater than 780,000 ft² (72,400 m²) of manufacturing facilities in the United States.