The F-35 Lightning II airplane is made from composite fiber, which means that when it comes to working on it, regular tools just won’t do. Here’s one of the tools that AMAMCO Tool created to work with some of the world’s most advanced airplanes.
Composite carbon fiber is at the foundation of some of aviation’s most advanced projects, including the F-35 Lightning II airplane. The material, which is lighter and stronger than metal, requires a new class of tools to shape it. When engineers machine parts for a stealth airplane, each piece has to fit perfectly. However, the edges of carbon-composite shapes suffer from delamination when their tightly pressed layers separate after being cut. This star-shaped router bit, built by South Carolina’s AMAMCO Tool, is designed to prevent delamination.
A. The shank: This custom-made, diamond- encrusted bit begins as a standard half-inch raw carbide blank–the same kind companies turn into woodworking router bits.
B. The flutes: Flutes channel-cut carbon fiber away from the overlap. Since carbon fiber is formed in layers, the bit has to clear a lot of recently decompressed material out of the way to keep the cutting surfaces unclogged.
C. The overlap: The point where the flutes switch directions, known as the overlap, makes the cut along the carbon fiber. As the overlap cuts, the flutes of the bit push the material toward the overlap in opposing directions, and this compressed cut creates a clean edge.
D. The tip: Diamonds are bonded to the bit by growing them in microscopic pores on the bit’s surface along the two cutting edges of each of six flutes. Unlike traditional dipped coatings, this homegrown ice has a longer life.