As the weather turns cooler in Bend Oregon, the team in the shop is staying indoors a bit more. No more afternoons sanding Perlan parts with the hangar doors open watching the traffic on the airfield. Of course this should help get our parts made quicker.
The final step in manufacturing the molds is the “post cure.” This is a process where the epoxy bonds in the carbon composite are fully cross-linked to make the mold stiffer and more resilient to the future stresses it will experience when making the final part in the autoclave. Basically the mold is heated to a medium heat – too hot to touch – and held at constant temperature for several hours.
Windward Performance now have their own oven set up to do this post cure, so it doesn’t need to be sent out to another facility. The photo below shows the last major Perlan fuselage mold in the oven, just before the door is closed.
Don’t ask me what the plaster mold is just in front of the camera. It is probably a part for one of Windward’s other customers, which requires the same heat cycle as the Perlan part.