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Mandrel Tooling kick starts further Aerospace interest

Retrac’s A350XWB AFP Mandrel Tooling kick starts further Aerospace interest

Retrac Composites, one of the UK’s most established advanced composite engineering companies, have strengthened their position as a leading supplier of aerospace tooling following the successful delivery of a set of Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) mandrels.


Demand continues to grow within the aerospace sectors for Retrac’s advanced composite engineering capabilities.

The large scale composite mandrels, a key component for GKN Aerospace in the manufacturing process of the Airbus A350XWB-1000 rear wing spar sections, will reduce weight, improve fuel efficiency and provide scope for more aerodynamically efficient wing structures for the tier one supplier of aero structures.

Each tool has been designed to exacting tolerances, including a surface accuracy of +/-0.10mm and a maximum deflection limit under load of 2mm.

With each mandrel measuring between 12m and 14m long and weighing in excess of 2,200kg, Project Director, Ian Drew, gives us an insight into how Retrac Composites are fast becoming a dominant force in the supply of very large composite tooling and components.

Speaking of the completed delivery Retrac Composites Project Director, Ian Drew, said “To bid for and win such a prestigious program of work from GKN Aerospace was great news for Retrac Composites and is a ringing endorsement of our highly skilled workforce. This underlines our ability to deliver innovative composite solutions to solve complex challenges and provides Retrac Composites with an excellent opportunity to further grow our aerospace business.”

“Retrac’s strength is in providing bespoke engineering solutions and developing lasting partnerships through innovation and experience”

To meet the demands of the fast growing aerospace industry, latest reports have identified a need for more than 32,500 passenger and freighter aircraft by 2034, Retrac Composites have strategically invested in its facilities, equipment and personnel since 2014 to meet demand.

A £2million investment in an additional 20,000 sq ft machining and production facility has also coincided with the installation of a 1,000 sq ft ISO 14644-1 Class 7 aerospace specification clean room. In addition to this the Retrac Group of companies have also invested a 3,500 sq ft ISO class 9 clean room and a 23m ABUS Crane System to enable it to undertake large scale aerospace projects.

“Our customer base is such that it demands control of all critical processes from design through to component under one roof. The investment in our new facility strengthens our ability to offer a single entity tooling and component manufacturing solution our customers were asking for.” Drew added.

So what does the future look like for Retrac Composites?

The Swindon based advanced manufacturing solutions company have recently secured another collaborative R&D program direct with Airbus, due to be delivered over Q4 of 2016 and into Q1 of 2017.

They also continue to provide R&D manufacturing support to an award winning Space Technology Company

With Rolls-Royce, CTAL and BE aerospace also exploring the potential to secure additional composite manufacturing capacity for future tooling and components things are looking positive for the family owned SME.

Work is already underway on their own innovative R&D tooling concept having secured 18 months of funding through NATEP to further enhance their ideas and application for large Aircraft Composite tooling.

Notes for Editors: About Retrac Group

The Group; comprising of Retrac Productions and Retrac Composites are the complete Engineering Partnership. In collaboration, the family owned business is able to offer customers a streamlined manufacturing solution in high-precision composite and metallic engineering to include components, tooling, patterns, moulds, jigs and fixtures, predominantly to the aerospace, automotive and motorsport sectors.

Our current qualifications and certifications include ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004, OHSAS 18001:2007 and Investors in People