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European Joint Development Of Aerospace Thermoplastic Composites With Complex Geometries

Sep 24, 2020

Several well-known European companies initiated by ESTIA-Compositadour are joining forces to develop advanced composite manufacturing solutions for full-scale thermoplastic aircraft rear-end demonstrators.


The fuselage of a new generation of large passenger aircraft will certainly rely on the advantages of thermoplastic composite materials. Higher resilience, recyclable potential and faster production cycles enable us to meet the challenges of the aviation industry in the future.

In fact, such materials are increasingly used in the aerospace industry because they help reduce aircraft weight, thereby reducing fuel consumption. There are still some problems that need to be overcome before this goal can be achieved. For aircraft with complex forms of continuous fiber reinforcement, the manufacturing of the rear end still poses huge challenges: such as high processing temperatures, high raw material costs, complex temperature control tools and constantly changing cross-sections.

In order to support the "Clean Sky 2" program, which focuses on developing concepts and realizing the best rear fuselage and tail technology, ESTIA-Compositadour is co-sponsored by Heraeus Noblelight Ltd. (UK), Xelis (Germany) and Cero (France) A European enterprise alliance has been developed into a framework of 2.5-year applied research projects: fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites for reinforced, complex, double-bend structures.

The main goal of the framework is to validate and evaluate the manufacturing method of the overall thermoplastic backend with key design features. The key technology developed in-house by FRAMES will be used in the mid-sized advanced back-end demonstrator manufactured by Deutsches Zentrumfür Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR), which is part of the Clean Sky 2 technology platform for the large passenger aircraft.

By combining their expertise and strength, the alliance hopes to bring reliable and competitive industrial solutions to intelligent heating systems for automatic web laying, efficient rib production processes and advanced heating tools. The alliance’s research and development will support the activation of key technologies.

√ Heraeus Noblelight will lead the development of optical fiber placement combined with a photothermal simulation model, which will use humm3

    Wait for the xenon heating equipment to lay down the fiber, so as to quickly lay down the skin.

√ Xelis will develop a robust manufacturing process for complex thermoplastic reinforced materials with mature high productivity capabilities

√ Cero will be responsible for providing a self-heating tool solution, which can realize the skin stiffener co-consolidation process in one breath

√ ESTIA-Compositadour will lead the project, conduct fiber placement test, and manufacture the demonstrator at the back end

    And provide support for DLR during delivery.

The FRAMES project has started, and progress updates will be released regularly.