In 2006, C-CAT expanded and relocated to a new headquarters in Kennedale, Texas near Forth Worth. Their state-of-the-art facility has oxidation protected carbon-carbon component manufacturing capabilities, including composite curing equipment, pyrolysis and densification equipment, a machine shop for tooling and components, coating furnaces, and a variety of ovens and test furnaces, and quality control inspection equipment. Current on-stream equipment is sized to process a 5 ft. x 10 ft. (1.5 x 3.1m) panel or 70 inch (1.8m) diameter nozzle through coating.
What is Carbon-Carbon?
Carbon-carbon or C/C is a composite material comprised of carbon fiber reinforcement in a matrix of graphite. C/C has gained a space-worthy reputation due to its high temperature resistance withstanding temperatures from 3,200 to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1760 – 2204°C). And the material becomes stronger as it gets hotter. Components constructed from C/C will hold their shape and remain relatively sound under serious duress. Industry insiders say if the Space Shuttle was being built today, the lower half of the wing skins and panels would more than likely be constructed of carbon-carbon, as the structure would be substantially lighter and much less complex.
After early generations, C-CAT began to formulate an advanced grade of the material with the intent to use it for more complex structures than in the nose cap of the Shuttle. Now carbon-carbon is being used throughout an entire vehicle. For example, a quick glance at current generation reusable hot structure space- related programs reveals the flight controls are fully C/C instead of the outdated aluminum-and-tile shuttle structure.