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8th May 2018, Paris

Enabling high speed production with Dry Fiber

Porcher Industries’ five business units presented the company’s latest technical textile and thermoplastic composite solutions at JEC World, in Paris, in March. Among the innovations was Dry Fiber, a versatile range of carbon fibre functionalised with a binder interface.

Optimised for AFP-made preforms for thermoset resin infusion or injection, Dry Fiber provides enhanced component properties to conventional prepreg stacking, enabling the high speed production of complex shaped parts with outstanding buy-to-fly ratio, according to the company.

Pierre-Yves Quéfélec, Global Aerospace & Defence BU Head, Porcher Industries. Porhcer Industries exhibiting at JEC World in Paris. © Inside Composites

Inside Composites spoke with Pierre-Yves Quéfélec, Global Aerospace & Defence BU Head, at JEC World, to discuss the latest product and its benefits.

Could you tell our readers more about Dry Fiber?

Pierre-Yves Quéfélec: At Porcher Industries, I am responsible for running the aerospace and defence business globally, and our main goal is to achieve the best compromise between developing disruptive innovation and economics, in response to the changes happening in the sector. And to do that, we need to consider the main macro trends driving this business. Currently, it is evident that the use of hand layup, for example, is dropping drastically, in favour of the automated fibre placements, automated tape layup and so on.

Also, in terms of supporting our partners to get the best mechanical properties, we are delivering the customised chemical interface, to optimize efficiency of what we call direct processes, such as RTM and resin infusion, allowing out-of-autoclave flows. This can bring more speed, higher production rates and help manage the ratio between fibre and resin, compared to standard prepreg that you are stacking and then pressing in the autoclave.

So, we decided we needed to address this challenge, and Dry Fiber is our way to do it, as well as bringing functionality in the final parts. We developed a very versatile process, using different kinds of binders to achieve more toughness in the final parts. Another benefit is the level of competitiveness it offers. What we have is a one step process, which can be applied to a different kind of carbon fibre, regardless of the fibre or binder supplier. We have bobbins as an input, and in one step we end up with a final semi product ready to be used in the AFP process.

Another benefit that the new product offers is credibility. The Dry Fiber is qualified and is already flying as a window frame in the A350 programme.

Porhcer Industries exhibiting at JEC World in Paris. © Inside Composites

Is it popular with the customers?

PYQ: Yes, today, for instance, in Europe we have several projects running. One of them is at the end of screening and in the second semester we are going to enter the final QTP Qualification Test Plan, before switching to the final step. The others are in the screening process. Meanwhile, in the US we have two very active projects. This portfolio of running projects is well balanced – it is both technology and cost driven, meaning the customers are looking for the best TCO approach.

Are these all aerospace projects?

PYQ: Yes. But this kind of technology is, of course, applicable to other sectors.

What is the main focus for near future?

PYQ: We have a very pragmatic approach, we provide flexible technology to meet the needs of the companies. We address both the thermoset and the thermoplastic supply chains with Dry Fiber, working with various fibre and chemistry suppliers. This part on display here is made of carbon PEKK, for instance, and we are pushing strongly to break a traditional thinking process – it is a structural part, and we managed to achieve the same performance as with the 3k based parts with 12k prepregs, by working on the chemistry and the interface of the fibre.

By working on the chemistry and the interface and optimising the surface of the fibre to have the higher strength and decreasing the cost by using 12k without losing any performance, our goal is to push this technology for thermoplastics since it is an interesting option. Hybrid technology – overmoulding, injection, also recyclability – offers different advantages, and we are very happy to see that it’s consolidating also in thermoplastics.

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