Drive Lines Technologies Ltd aerospace expertise and experience helps to build the world’s largest hot drape former!

Autoclave & Industrial Controls Ltd, part of the AIC Group based in Poole, designed and built the new hot drape former costing $2.7million for a Chinese aerospace manufacturer in Shanghai.  Hot drape formers are used to pre-form the carbon fibre used to make wing spars for the new aircraft. This HDF is by far the largest in the world.

AIC commissioned a new 10,000 sq ft factory to manufacture the 20 metre long and 1.5 metre wide machine.  From concept to build, Drive Lines worked alongside Dunleigh Bowen, AIC Senior Design Engineer to specify and supply the vital drive train component. He says: “It was a pleasure working with Drive Lines. Their approach to our requirements was positive and constructive& their suggestions were greatly appreciated. The finalassembled Hot Drape Former and Hot Box operated very smoothly and totally trouble free.”

The stand-alone preheater ‘Hot Box’ required a cantilever design with a lifting requirement of 10 tonnes. Drive Lines supplied a self locking, controlled movement screw jack system manufactured by their principals Grob Antriebstechnik GmbH consisting of a 2 jack design with centrally mounted motor, bevel gearbox and R+W precision line shafts.

The very large moment loads required large double combined bearings and bespoke flange plates to integrate into AIC’s bogey carriage mounting arrangement. This  offered smooth, high load guidance with balanced, even  bearing contact with the strong U section steel guide channels.

The Main HDF lamp bank, with an estimated mass of 19 tonnes needed an electrically synchronised lift at each end  due to the long lengths involved. Again, Drive Lines provided a compact Grob 2 screw jack system with bevel  gearbox, R+W couplings & line shafts and large 11kW Siemens motors with PROFINET absolute encoders for  precision synchronisation. The brake motors connected directly to AIC’s complex Siemens control system.

“It is a tremendous endorsement of British manufacturing and engineering and shows we are at the forefront of the global race.” Tony Toll, Chief Executive,  AIC

The drive system components once installed worked first time and integrated into the controls system without issues.

The complete project was completely assembled and tested at AIC’s special projects facility in Poole. Part of the designbrief was to be able to break the machine into parts for transfer. It still required 10 large trucks!

“This is the largest machine we have manufactured to date,” said Tony Toll, chief executive officer of AIC. “It is a tremendous endorsement of British manufacturing and engineering and shows we are at the forefront of the global race.

Our customers could have chosen to go to a number of different countries around the world. They chose here because of our skills, knowledge and experience.

Though this is a highly complex high-tech piece of kit, we will deliver the hot drape former on time and on budget. That’s what we do.”

Drive Lines are unique in being able to supply these complete drive train and guidance components due to their exclusive partnership with world leading manufacturers such as Grob Antriebstechnik GmbH, R+W Antriebselemente GmbH and MS Graessner GmbH.  Full details of all these products are on our website