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Adrian Wilson

Editor's Viewpoint

1st May 2019, Paris

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a composite, asks Porcher Industries?

Jean-Marc Senecot, Porcher Industries global head of R&D with the new SATCOM radome. © Adrian Wilson

Jean-Marc Senecot, Porcher Industries global head of R&D with the new SATCOM radome. © Adrian Wilson

Wings weighing just 986 grams make the Run and Fly paraglider, designed by Jean-Baptiste Chandelier and manufactured by Polish-headquartered sports brand Dudek, the lightest and most compact aircraft in the world.

The Run and Fly wing fabric was amongst a vast array of technical textiles, laminates, reinforcements and composite parts displayed by Porcher Industries at this year’s JEC World Composites show in Paris.

Many of the company’s products, such as the Run and Fly wings, exist in a grey area between technical textiles and composites, consisting of different reinforcing materials held together with resin, only retaining the drape and flexibility of a fabric.

All, however, have been developed based on over a century of experience in advanced weaving and technologies and whether defined as technical textiles or composites, they are now making a solid contribution to both high performance and lightweighting in a broad range of end-products.

 “Lightweighting is a key pillar of our research and development focus and the Run and Fly wings are an extreme example of this,” said Jean-Marc Senecot the company’s global head of R&D at the Paris show. “A focus on thermoplastic high performance matrices is also resulting in a number of recent successes which include the first thermoplastic carbon and PEEK primary part for the Airbus helicopter rotor, as well as lightweight composites for the automotive sector. These are based on PolyPreg, our woven co-mingled glass and polypropylene fabrics which can be directly consolidated into high strength composite parts with the addition of heat and minimal pressure.

“Following a successful two-year period focused on expansion and investment in global plants, technologies and systems, this year sees Porcher focusing purely on innovation.”

5G radome

Also taking pride of place among the Porcher Industries exhibits at JEC World was the new SATCOM radome, for which the company has supplied materials to Meggitt, a specialist in high performance components and sub-systems for the aerospace, defence and energy markets.

The Dudek Run and Fly paraglider. © Porcher Industries

The Dudek Run and Fly paraglider. © Porcher Industries

“The radome supports the demand for enhanced 5G communication for in-flight connectivity,” said Senecot, who joined Porcher after many years of experience at a number of key players of the fibres industry. “Meggit challenged us to develop a composite material solution that would deliver high impact resistance and efficient processing whilst also providing the ability to tune the dielectric constant (Dk) for optimising 5G air-to-ground transmission. We subsequently developed a bespoke glass reinforced thermoplastic material for the base structural component.”

The key performance targets for the composite material radome, he explained, were low permittivity and low loss tangent at GHz frequencies within stringent cost and processing parameters.

 “Porcher’s commitment to R&D is also being reinforced through the establishment of new centres in key regions,” Senecot stressed. 

These include the new $7 million purpose-built facility in Dansville, Virginia, that is increasing significantly the number of researchers who will now work collaboratively with the Porcher based R&D Centre in France.

Throughout 2019 and 2020, a new Centre of Excellence is further being created in Saint Julien en Saint Alban in France, through the merging of two existing sites.

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