Heat Exchanger for F-35

Since 1976, G & J Steel & Tubing, Inc. has been providing precision manufacturing services for customers in the defense and aerospace industries. These industries demand extreme quality, and have put their trust in our ability to deliver products that exceed their expectations for quality and consistency.

In this project, we manufactured a critical component for a high profile military system, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This aircraft is the pinnacle of aviation technology, and requires an elevated level of quality. We were tasked with manufacturing a heat exchanger that would be used in a camera assembly. Composed of 321 stainless steel; it consisted of four individually bent tubes, formed into a unique profile. Unfortunately, due to the dimensions and tolerances, there was no equipment on the market that could provide the capabilities that we needed.

The manufacturing process called for bending, flattening, and welding, all of which had to fit into a profile gauge that allowed for only ±.030″ of clearance. To meet all of these requirements we first had to design a tube bender and flattening fixture that could flatten on two individual planes. At the same time we developed a checking fixture so the customer could perform their final inspection.

Another challenge was orbital welding, since its use was a first for us, we had to become experts quickly, and then develop a system that would deliver the quality and consistency that the project required, as well as getting our welders certified in its use. Since this project required 100% inspection, we also had to build robust pressure test equipment to ensure the integrity of each assembly. In the end the project was and is a success, we currently manufacture 1500 units annually in batches that are turned over in just 4 weeks.

For more information about this project, see the table below or contact us directly.

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Heat Exchanger for F-35 Specifications

Project Name & Description

Heat Exchanger for F-35 Camera

Capabilities Applied/Processes

Design engineering to build a dedicated bender
Design engineering to develop and build flattening tools

Design and build pressure testing equipment
Orbital Welding

Equipment Used to Manufacture Part

G&J designed and built bender
Press for flattening

Orbital welding machine
Pressure testing

Material Used

SS type 304

Industry for Use

Aerospace, Defense

In Process Testing/Inspection Performed

Pressure testing of coils
100% inspection of each part to fixture


Up to 1500 per year

Delivery/Turnaround Time

4 weeks

Standards Met

Welding process, and welder, certified to AWS 17.1