US 9,808,997 B1
Methods and tools for forming contoured composite structures with shape memory alloy
Daniel M. Rotter, Lake Forest Park, WA (US); and Paul E. Nelson, University Place, WA (US)
Assigned to The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL (US)
Filed by The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL (US)
Filed on Dec. 30, 2016, as Appl. No. 15/396,170.
Application 15/396,170 is a division of application No. 14/188,252, filed on Feb. 24, 2014, granted, now 9,566,746.
Claims priority of provisional application 61/900,480, filed on Nov. 6, 2013.
Int. Cl. B29C 61/00 (2006.01); B29C 70/44 (2006.01); B29C 70/46 (2006.01); B29C 53/04 (2006.01); B29K 105/08 (2006.01); C22F 1/00 (2006.01)
CPC B29C 70/44 (2013.01) [B29C 53/04 (2013.01); B29C 70/46 (2013.01); B29K 2105/0872 (2013.01); C22F 1/006 (2013.01); Y02T 50/433 (2013.01)] 20 Claims
OG exemplary drawing
 
1. A tool for forming a contoured composite structure, the tool comprising:
a structure of shape memory alloy configured to deform from a first conformation to a second conformation when heated to within an activated temperature range, wherein the second conformation corresponds to a desired contour of a sheet of composite material, and wherein the structure of shape memory alloy is configured to operatively receive the sheet of composite material;
a heat source configured to heat the structure of shape memory alloy to within the activated temperature range to actively deform the structure of shape memory alloy from the first conformation to the second conformation, thus resulting in conformation of the sheet of composite material to the desired contour at least partially corresponding to the second conformation of the shape memory alloy, wherein the sheet of composite material is maintained in the desired conformation when the structure of shape memory alloy returns to the first conformation; and
a retention structure configured to selectively retain the sheet of composite material relative to the structure of shape memory alloy when the heat source heats the structure of shape memory alloy to within the activated temperature range.