Precision Machining of Composite Structures
Navy SBIR FY2018.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2018.1
Topic No.: N181-028
Topic Title: Precision Machining of Composite Structures
Proposal No.: N181-028-0209
Firm: Product Innovation and Engineering L.L.C.
No. 6 Wilson Drive
St. James Industrial Park
St. James, Missouri 65559
Contact: Leon Hill
Phone: (530) 906-0238
Web Site:
Abstract: The goal of this SBIR Phase I research is to demonstrate the feasibility of developing an innovative laser-based approach as a precision machining tool to machine fastener holes of Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composites for military aircraft use. The proposed technology is a model-based laser processing (MLP) system, with an eventual goal of the Phase II/III project to commercialize the developed technology. To achieve this goal, the technical objectives, the proposed MLP technology includes the following critical steps: 1) Modeling of laser machining of composite structures; 2) Testing and validation of basic laser machining strategies; 3) Adapting multiple energy sources; and 4) Designing MLP prototype system.
Benefits: Fiber reinforced composites have been increasingly used to replace steel in the automotive industry due to their high strength and low weight as compared to metals. Composite materials are becoming more important to aerospace, naval, space, and automotive industries. Laser-based machining enables the development of complex parts in an efficient and economical way. The main disadvantage of laser machining is the thermal input from the laser system. This thermal damage can manifest itself as delamination within the composite component and burn back of the matrix at the cut edge. Also if the residual stresses exceed the strength of the resin, then the damage will occur resulting in cracks. The proposed MLP system, after full implementation, will have the unique features to resolve the current challenges. The U.S. composite materials market has reached $8 billion in value, and is still growing. The MLP technology will have a significant impact on both military and composite manufacturing industry.