How the UAM Working Group Aims to Help Advance Composite Manufacturing Tech

Aerospace grade composites have long been regarded as the golden standard for quality and durability. How can single batch production ramp to support the demands of a new industry?

Composite manufacturing is common place among aerospace, automotive racing, and other high performance transportation modes – but it’s not currently staged to support the growing demands of transformative modes of transportation that will require assembly-line scale mass produced material to bolster production levels to 100’s and 1,000’s of units per month from less than 10.

The American Composites Manufacturers Association, in partnership with aerial mobility startup Happy Take Off, are focusing directly on enabling the business relationships that will facilitate creative solutions to this problem. In partnership with over 20 companies from the aerospace and automotive manufacturing industries, ACMA and HTO hosted an Urban Air Mobility Meeting on September 25th in Anaheim, CA to form the UAM Working Group and kickoff discussions on advanced manufacturing processes for aerospace and automotive grade materials, composite material sciences developments, and how technology, aerospace, and automotive companies alike can leverage one another’s strengths to create solutions to the challenges of mass produced composites faster than any one company may be able to.

The partnerships aren’t without risk – it’ll be a challenging decision for some companies to offer up their IP in hopes of a greater return through collaboration. However, the UAM Working Group aims to facilitate those discussions at a high level, and then allow members of the group to talk specifics amongst themselves. Founder of Happy Take Off, Danielle McLean describes the aim of the group: “Our aim is to facilitate the high level, initial connection between players in the aerospace and automotive composites industries, and then allow them to dive further into the details of those partnerships privately.” ACMA’s Vice President of Composites Market Development, Dan Coughlin added that the working group is also encouraging the development of P3’s (public private partnerships) with Federal agencies including the Department of Defense, NASA and Department of Energy toward the betterment of composites manufacturing.

“Through our outreach, market development, and advocacy capabilities, ACMA connects industry with Federal agencies and policy makers in Washington, DC.  The manufacturing needs of the UAM industry are challenging.  ACMA will provide essential support for the UAM industry’s ambitious growth plans through our partnership, advocacy, and networking opportunities.

NASA’s Aeronautics Research Institute is also involved – Parimal Kopardekar (PK), Ph.D., and director of NARI plans to serve as a charter member of the UAM Working Group. In total, the UAM Working Group has combined players from UAM, tech, aerospace, automotive, governmental policy, private policy, and trade organizations in very short order, and is poised well to make an impact on the future of composites manufacturing for the aerial mobility industry.

About Happy Take Off and ACMA

Happy Take Off is focused on creation of modular vertiports than can be used on most existing buildings. HTO’s goal is to grow the number of applicable landing sites for UAM operations while minimizing the infrastructure and financial barriers to entry for vertiports. These modular vertiports will be completely self-contained, include live weather data for better route planning, and allow developers who aren’t as familiar with the industry to gain exposure and demo being a part of commercial UAM operations much easier than before.

The American Composites Manufacturing Association (ACMA) the world’s largest composites industry trade group. By delivering invaluable education and events, access to market intelligence, and by working with regulators and legislators, ACMA serves as the center of expertise and competence and an essential driver of industry growth and prosperity. ACMA represents small and large companies—manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, and affiliates—from every market segment in all 50 states as well as international members.

Why it’s important: Companies like Icon Aircraft have been wildly popular for creating easy to fly, clean sheet general aviation aircraft that generate marketing buzz commensurate of a newly released supercar – but the technologies to enable mass production of the same or similar materials that are already in use for general aviation aerospace applications are years away from reality. The partnership between ACMA and Happy Take Off, in addition to the 50+ companies participating in the Urban Air Mobility meeting in Anaheim, CA, suggests that these discussions are already advancing progress less than a month after the formal program was announced.

Below is a full list of companies currently committed to the UAM Working Group:

Airspace Experience Technologies

Boat Works of South Windsor, Inc.

CTS Composites

Diab Americas LP

HUNTSMAN

IACMI

Innegra Technologies

Interplastic Corporation

Janicki Industries

Joby Aviation

Karem Aircraft

NEXA Capital Partners, LLC

Norplex-Micarta

Oak Ridge National Lab

ORIBI Manufacturing

Polynt Reichhold

Superior Huntingdon Composites, LLC

TxV Aero Composites

Vectorply Corporation

Posted by Naish Gaubatz

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