World's Biggest Autoclave

Composite parts and autoclaves keep getting bigger.

Composite parts and autoclaves keep getting bigger. Aeroform Ltd. in Poole/Dorset in the U.K. (U.S. office is Thermal Equipment Corp., Torrance, Calif.) is building what is believed to be the world’s largest autoclave—30 ft diam. x 70 ft long (approx. 18,100 cu ft)—to form the fuselage of the Boeing 787 passenger plane. Three autoclaves that size are being built now—one for Boeing in Wichita, Kan., and two others under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagoya, Japan. Up to now, Aeroform says, the largest autoclave was 25 ft diam. and 90 ft long (approx. 16,200 cu ft), used for Boeing’s stealth bomber. The autoclave was designed with multiple motors impelling air circumferentially, instead of one at one end, to keep the part temperature uniform, thereby reducing cure time and improving product quality.