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Advances in Thermoplastic Composite Aerospace Applications

SpecialChem / Donald Rosato & Don Rosato – Dec 19, 2011

Composites are engineering materials made from two or more constituent materials, matrix and reinforcement, that remain separate and distinct on a macroscopic level while forming a single component. Understanding the performance of composite materials is essential to advancing their use in aerospace. Three dimensional composite reinforcement technologies provide performance and efficiency advantages that are accelerating demand and stimulating this development in the aerospace sector. Think Composites network (Stanford University, U.S., Itochu Corporation, Japan, Industrial Technology Center of Fukui, Japan, and Mitsuya Co., Japan) have developed unique thin ply laminate technology. Thermoplastic composites are of growing interest in the aerospace sector because of their inherent properties. Their high toughness results in low-weight designs. The physical process only involves melting without a curing cycle, which results in fast and robust processing. Their excellent FST (fire, smoke and toxicity) properties and recyclability are also advantageous. Currently, a growing number of thermoplastic composite parts and assemblies can be found in state-of-the-art aircraft.

Examples include multi-ribs concepts in many aircraft programs and welded fixed wing leading edges for the Airbus A380 made from glass fiber reinforced polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). XCOR Aerospace, a private US-based spaceflight development company has developed a novel composite material for applications in rocket fuel cells. For external lightning strike surface protection, various metal and metallized fiber products have been developed using thermoplastic composite (nylon 11 or PPS polyphenylene sulfide) tape/ metallic mesh technology.

* Trademarks of SABIC Innovative Plastics IP B.V.
™ 3M and Versaflo are trademarks of 3M Company, used under license in Canada.

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