Mitsubishi purchases second round of Flow waterjets to cut wing structures for major commercial aircraft composite airframe manufacturer
KENT, Wash., November 27, 2007 - Flow International Corporation (Nasdaq: FLOW), the world's leading developer and manufacturer of industrial waterjet machines used for cutting and cleaning applications around the world, today announced that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has awarded the company a second round multi-million dollar contract - to supply MHI with Flow's Composite Waterjet machine tool to cut the carbon fiber wing components for a major commercial jet aircraft program.
Flow's Composite Waterjet machining system for the precision machining of carbon fiber composite stringers will measure 80 ft. long. It will be utilized for cutting the composite stringers, which are part of the composite wing structure. As a result of breakthrough development work, it will be equipped with multiple patent-pending "side-fire" nozzles. The system will be built and tested in Jeffersonville, Ind., one of Flow's six worldwide manufacturing plants. The UHP pumps that provide the ultrahigh-pressure water will be made at the Kent, Wash. headquarters.
"The second round award of Flow's commercial wing structure machining system proves the effectiveness of Flow's waterjet technology and its ability to create 'state of the art' aircraft parts in a cost-effective manner," said Charley Brown, Flow's President and Chief Executive Officer.
Traditionally, conventional cutting tools - handheld diamond or carbide-tipped routers, bandsaws, cutoff saws and abrasive wheels - were used to cut composites. However, due to the composition and fiber orientation of advanced composites, these traditional cutting tools can damage the composites either by over heating, or by leaving frayed or delaminated edges. Frequent delamination and fraying requires costly rework.
Waterjets eliminate cutting problems associated with advanced aerospace composites because abrasive waterjets cut by erosive action rather than friction and shearing. To cut carbon composite aircraft parts, a thin stream of water moving at three times the speed of sound is emitted from a tiny, jeweled orifice in the tool head of Flow's machine. The one gallon-per-minute water flow draws in a separate stream of fine garnet particles that slice into the surface being cut. They produce exceptional edge quality, free of frayed or delaminated areas, which minimizes costly secondary finishing. Waterjets' low operating temperature doesn't affect the material being cut. Furthermore, because waterjets exert far less lateral force on the material than conventional machines, tooling and fixturing requirements are simpler and less expensive.
Flow waterjets have been used to increase productivity at leading aerospace companies such as Boeing, Airbus, Rockwell, Teledyne Ryan, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, Northrop and other firms that provide composite machining services.
About Flow International Corporation
Flow International Corporation is the world's leading developer and manufacturer of ultrahigh-pressure waterjet cutting technology to industries including automotive, aerospace, job shop, surface preparation, and more. For more information, visit www.flowcorp.com.