Clinkenbeard Launches New Division, Completes Full Scale Mockup of Pratt & Whitney’s F135 Engine for the F-35 Lightning II
Clinkenbeard, a Rockford-based manufacturer who specializes in the rapid production of complex metal castings and machined parts, recently introduced a new division - Mechanical Prototypes. Using a unique set of techniques and skill sets, Mechanical Prototypes allows the company to develop prototypes that are as real as you can get, without being the real thing.
The first project for the newly created division was to complete a full scale F135 Engine training mockup. The mockup is now used as a hands-on instructional tool for maintenance training for the F-35 program at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
“Creating a full size mockup is much more cost effective for the customer than producing an entire engine solely for training purposes,” said Matt Gustafson, Director of Innovation for Clinkenbeard. “By combining engineered and machined prototypes with available production parts, we were able to replicate an entire engine assembly that allows mechanics to simulate actual maintenance tasks and manipulate the modular components of the engine.”
The project took 15 months from start to finish and included several phases of development and multiple manufacturing partners, including Tri Aerospace, Clinkenbeard’s sister company.
Through extensive scheduled inspections by military partners, the project culminated in final acceptance testing at Clinkenbeard’s facility. Representatives from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corp, Royal Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, the F-35 Joint Program Office, and Pratt and Whitney, the engine manufacturer, were all onsite for final testing.
This is the seventh mockup that Clinkenbeard has manufactured for the F-35 program over the past 10 years.
Clinkenbeard is part of the Model 2 Machine Group, a Generation Growth Capital-led consortium of companies that provide customers with an array of services to support their product and parts research and development projects from product design to production.
“This project really illustrates our capabilities and the top-notch quality of our work,” said Gustafson. “We are extremely proud of the finished product and are looking forward to doing more of this type of work in the future.”