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Setting the Stage

March 11, 2014

By adding a five-axis waterjet/milling machine, its biggest autoclave and a more expansive lay-up room, Royal Engineered Composites is positioning itself to win larger-scale aerospace work it sees on the horizon.
    Modern Machine Shop, Derek Korn, Senior Editor 

Some might say that Royal Engineered Composites sits in the middle of nowhere, but don't let its location fool you. The Minden, Neb., manufacturer has impressive composite production capabilities and has recently made significant strides to process larger-scale parts in the future.

Phillip Gill, Royal’s president, observes a waterjet trimming process for a lower fairing made from a Kevlar composite material.Tim O'Dey, engineering manager, says Royal was spurred to expand its capacity to take on this type of work a few years ago, sensing an upcoming need for suppliers of big composite aerospace components such as engine cowling sections and thrust-reverser systems. But while the company had a wealth of experience manufacturing similar, smaller-sized composite components, its existing production capabilities simply couldn't accommodate work of that magnitude. Given its vertically integrated approach, scaling up its process would require a considerable investment in a number of areas so as to keep complete composite manufacturing capabilities in-house.

In a bold move to position itself to win this type of work, Royal recently completed the first of three planned facility expansions. This first expansion increased its total floor space to 82,000 square feet with a high-bay building addition that includes a larger composite lay-up clean room, its sixth and biggest autoclave, and a combined five-axis waterjet/milling machine for final trimming and drilling operations. What's particularly impressive ...

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