Drape Forming

Aeronautics Customer


Automation is one of the most reliable methods of reducing production time while maintaining consistent quality products and minimizing employee fatigue. This customer evaluated their manual lay-up process and determined that all three of these goals could be achieved through automation. Working with Criterion, a system was developed to produce the upper and lower half of a carbon fiber spar which is used in the main rotor blade of an attack helicopter. A flat charge is assembled by an associate on the layup table. Once the charge is complete, the table indexes and rotates placing the charge onto the mandrel located in the drape former in a repeatable manner. The engineers who initiated and helped implement the system were awarded the innovation award for their work in identifying and implementing this improvement.


  • Prevention of repetitive use injuries
  • Increased output rate
  • Decreased labor cost
  • Increased part consistency
  • Reduced cycle time
  • Capable of net shape forming

unique features

  • Laser projected template to assist the operator in laying out the carbon fiber plastic & fiberglass material
  • One operation heat and vacuum forming over mandrel
  • Guided final trim