GKN Aerospace purchased its first industrial-standard microwave oven for use by engineers in Munich, Germany, to progress research work into the use of microwaves in the production of composite structures. The oven, which was supplied by Votsch Industrietechnik, has a working chamber of 7,000 L and a power of 30 kW. By using microwave technology, only the product is heated and requires cooling while the associated tooling and oven chamber remain cool. According to GKN Aerospace, microwave processing could cut processing times by 50% and energy consumption by 90%.
The current curing process is mostly commonly achieved using an autoclave, which is highly effective but expensive, time consuming and energy-heavy. GKN Aerospace must now turn the potential of microwave technology into industrially ready processes for the next generation of aircraft projects.