Thornton Cleveleys (UK) – More than 35,000 aircraft are predicted to be needed worldwide over the next 20 years. It's in this context that manufacturers are fiercely competing to increase the speed of manufacture and reduce the cost and weight of their aircraft, focusing in particular on the use of composites. Their intense interest in this class of solutions is now set to be given an additional boost by the newly developed VICTREX™ AE250 Composites, a PAEK*-based product family. The unidirectional tapes (UDT) and laminate panels offer clear benefits in terms of speed of component manufacture and installation. This new Victrex product group will be on display for the first time in Europe at the JEC World Composites Show in Paris in March, and its proven potential for use with hybrid molding technology is the key theme at the stand (Hall 5A, Stand J6) of the leading global PAEK-based solutions provider.
The new VICTREX AE250 composites open up a whole new dimension for the aerospace industry, hence the confident motto of the Victrex stand at the JEC show
: “Changing the Equation in Aerospace Composites”. “We believe that our materials and technology solutions will continue to tilt market share in favour of composites in the aircraft construction industry. They help to reduce costs, achieve weight savings, offer more design freedom and provide durability and fast production times”, explains Tim Herr, Aerospace Director at Victrex, in the run-up to the trade show.
Time and cost savings
Specifically designed for the aerospace industry, VICTREX AE250 composites enable the production of continuously-reinforced components that perform extremely well under load. Components manufactured in this way include brackets, clamps, clips and housings used throughout the aircraft in primary and secondary structures, from the cabin – including seats – to the engines and fuel tank.
In addition to providing up to a 60% reduction in weight compared with metals, the main advantage of the next generation high-strength, continuously-reinforced composites is the reduction of manufacturing time and system costs. This is the result of smarter designs and semi- or fully-automated mass production using a new kind of hybrid molding technology
. The innovative PAEK composites bridge the gap between composite materials and injection molding and enable the production of complex composite components that were previously impossible to manufacture.
Lighter, better, cost-effective: VICTREX PAEK invites glowing comparisons
The hybrid molding process enables VICTREX AE250 composites in the form of inserts analogue to metals, to be overmolded with short-fibre reinforced VICTREX PEEK polymers. This allows engineers to combine the mechanical properties of the composites with the design flexibility and fast production times of the injection-molding process. It is not necessary to pre-heat the VICTREX AE250 organosheets nearly up to the melting temperature before inserting them into the injection-molding press. The benefits resulting from the use of the Victrex composites include improved cycle times, reduced energy consumption, elimination of secondary process steps, reduced amount of scrap and also savings in installation expense, all of which can make a substantial contribution to reducing overall system costs. “This technology paves the way for components which can be manufactured more cost-effectively and with increased functionality and reliability", adds Herr.
Composites made from Victrex high-performance thermoplastics are up to 60% lighter than AISI 4130 steel, a tough chromium-nickel-molybdenum alloy widely used in aviation applications. They can also achieve significant weight advantages over lightweight metals, including TA6V titanium, 7075-T6 aluminum or ZK60A-T5 magnesium. The high-performance composites are not only lighter than these metals, they also outperform them. For example, the specific strength of the composites is five times that of AISI 4130 steel.
Established high-performance thermoplastics for aircraft construction solutions
PEEK solutions from the UK-based international company have been used in the aerospace industry for over 25 years and have been certified by well-known aircraft manufacturers. For example, Airbus used the first VICTREX PAEK-based primary structural component in the door of the Airbus A350XWB. The Chinese aircraft manufacturer COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) is using VICTREX Pipes™ instead of metal pipes
to protect high-voltage cables in the lead-up to launch of its first commercial aircraft.
JEC World Composites Show and Conferences (8-10 March 2016, Paris): Victrex in Hall 5A, Stand J6