PAC Group | Hot Drape Former - BAE Systems

Hot Drape Former - BAE Systems

19 May 2022

PAC Preformer BAE Systems Finished 3


BAE Systems wanted to implement new technology as part of a capacity and process expansion. The specification for this bespoke machine called for a compact and self-contained unit, that would give higher quality parts through tight control of the process while also improving user ergonomics.

The existing machine was an ageing piece of equipment that was using legacy technology and was restricted in capacity both from a cycle time and performance perspective. In order to futureproof production for newer more complicated parts and to improve quality, BAE approached PAC Group to provide a new Hot Drape Former.


Two of our specialist divisions, PAC Composites and PAC Automation, collaborated to design, manufacture and install a Hot Drape Former which included an internal vacuum pump capable of producing in excess of -900mBar vacuum.

This high level of vacuum helps produce excellent conformity of the applied composite to the tool. This coupled with the integrated custom exhaust filter and the forced air cooling system means the machine is almost totally self contained, requiring only a pneumatic and electric supply. This allowed for a simplified installation and ensured minimal disruption to current production

Heating Systems


All of our Hot Drape Formers feature a quartz infrared heating system to soften the carbon fibre quickly and evenly. This is to allow the layers to slip against each other, producing accurate parts that are free from any stress wrinkling. This system utilises a bank of x24 750W heaters..

Heating control

The Performer was equipped with pyrometer-controlled heat monitoring allowing for an extremely accurate part surface temperature reading with thermocouples providing overtemperature protection. The pyrometers control four separate heat zones all with six lamps each.


Using our specialist knowledge and award-winning patented technology, we equipped the hot drape former with:

Safety and Ergonomics

For optimum operator accessibility, the vacuum table can be manually pulled out from the machine which allows for more ergonomic tooling placement and fabric layup.

To further enhance operator safety, front and rear light curtains were added to enable a safe and effective emergency stop in the event an operator attempts to access moving parts of the machine. This allows the operator safe access to the machine without the need for physical guards, improving cycle time and ease of use.



PAC Composites successfully manufactured the bespoke hot drape former to BAE Systems’ specification on budget and within the required timeframe.

Following a SAT (Site Acceptance Test) in which BAE Systems tested the Preformer at the PAC workshop in Belfast we arranged delivery of the machine to the customer site in Samlesbury, Lancashire.

The finished machine was successfully delivered and installed on-site by a highly experienced team from PAC Automation, with the assistance of SCADA engineers within the specified timeline.

Once a FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) was completed BAE Systems confirmed they were highly satisfied with both the quality of the product and the service PAC Group have provided.

Technical Specification:

Contact our team today for more information on our bespoke hot drape forming machines, or to discuss your specific requirements with our specialist engineers on 02893 364600 or email

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