Solvay and Boeing work together to develop new composite materials to allow aircraft to bid farewell to the metal age
May 13, 2020
Composite materials for the fastest production
What makes this material special is its curing time. Traditionally, it takes several hours to manufacture parts with carbon fiber resin prepreg due to autoclave curing, and CYCOM® EP2750 can greatly reduce the time required for this process, increasing production speed by 10 to 20 times.
The realization of such a high production speed is also due to the compatibility of this new material with the double film forming method (DDF) and the spring frame pressing method-these are currently the two fastest processes for manufacturing composite parts. Parts can be easily handled by the robot, combined with the fast curing properties of the resin, the cycle time can be reduced from 8.5 hours to 30 minutes. This is just the beginning of a virtuous circle. As part manufacturing speeds up, the level of asset utilization will decrease and output will increase. At the same time, compared with the use of autoclave curing, the thermocompression molding method is more cost-effective, especially for small-sized parts.
Combining these factors, the total cost of each part will be greatly reduced, thereby making the composite material competitive when compared with traditional aluminum. In addition, although the technology is only aimed at small and medium-sized components, the performance and quality of products produced by this technology are in line with aviation standards, which means that the main load-bearing structure and the secondary load-bearing structure can also be applied to these components, and the complex geometry Needless to say.
In addition to the commercial aircraft we are familiar with, CYCOM® EP2750 is also suitable for any other field in the aviation industry that requires high-speed production of large numbers of parts, such as military aircraft, autonomous aircraft-such as the rapidly expanding drone market, and the emerging urban aerial taxi. For these vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, high-performance, lightweight composite materials will undoubtedly be useful.
Close cooperation in pursuit of light weight
CYCOM® EP2750 is the result of close cooperation and joint development between Solvay and Boeing. More than three years ago, the two parties began to work together to gain a deeper understanding of the aviation industry ’s need for high-speed and efficient production of parts, research related technical challenges, and develop materials and process solutions in a targeted manner. Parts, confirming this ability. The division of labor between the two companies is clear: Boeing sets goals for production speed and material performance, and provides parts design based on typical small-sized aviation parts. Solvay is responsible for developing processing requirements, prepregs and manufacturing processes. As one of the three finalists in the aviation category of the JEC World Innovation Awards, CYCOM® EP2750's results are indeed impressive.
Composite material innovation halves aircraft carbon footprint
In view of this innovation, the cost of composite aircraft parts can be higher than that of metal parts. Manufacturers will also increasingly replace metal with composite parts, so that the composite material of aircraft accounts for more than 50% of the watershed. Thereby further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, lighter aircraft will also bring a more comfortable travel experience: the flying height can be reduced, the cabin pressure is not so large, and the air humidity can be higher, helping to reduce the discomfort caused by jet lag. In addition, the design freedom brought by the composite material also means that the aircraft can get more room for improvement in passenger comfort.
According to estimates by the aviation industry, the currently used composite materials help save 10% -15% of fuel consumption, which can also be converted into carbon dioxide emission reductions: each kilogram of fuel saved is equivalent to a reduction of 3.15 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions. The aviation industry is still growing steadily. The only way to successfully achieve the goal of halving the industry's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is to keep the aircraft lighter. The good news is that Solvay has joined the battle to help the aviation industry。