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2nd December 2019, Bradford

Next Gen core filler for aircraft interiors

Automated core-filling process. © Von Roll

Automated core-filling process. © Von Roll

Thanks to the use of lightweight materials while offering very high stability and stiffness, sandwich panel constructions are very often used in today’s sophisticated aircraft interior structures. They consist of a honeycomb core made from various materials, from aluminium to non-metal constructions. They are manufactured thanks to the use of pre-impregnated glass- or carbon-fibre based prepregs that are laminated on the top and on the bottom of the honeycomb core and then cured in an oven, press or autoclave.

Often, the designers of interior components have requirements to reinforce some local areas of these sandwich panels: a typical case is the fixation of seats to the aircraft floor panel by bolts, requiring a series of inserts within the honeycomb core. Here, it makes sense to use a compound filling the honeycomb core, thus allowing for increasing the stiffness and strength of the sandwich panels and obtaining strongest fixation. In order to save weight while delivering maximum local stiffness, the compound needs to fill the honeycomb core reliably and homogeneously.

According to Von Roll, a long-established industrial company, its Next Gen core filler outperforms these requirements, figuring as the most solid and durable anchor point for these kinds of point-precise assembling constructions.

Performance

“Today, composite sandwich structures are still often produced in manual labour and the application of the compound represents one of the most time consuming operations,” the company explains. “The automation of this process can cut production costs by more than 30%, not only by reducing the manual labour hours, but also by reducing material scrap rates while increasing quality and repeatability. The velocity of the robot tool during dispensing of the potting material is limited by the maximum extrusion rate, so a material providing higher extrusion rate vs. state-of-art potting resins allows for higher production throughput.”

Core fillers are a quite costly product which results from the cost of the raw materials used in it as well as from the complexity of the manufacturing processes. When using manual potting operations, manufacturers traditionally make extensive use of the core filler due to difficulties in filling specific target areas or single cells.

The new Next Gen core filler has performed well in Von Roll´s internal tests. Its most important advantage is the long pot and storage life at ambient conditions, as well as its very precise disability, which makes the material the ideal choice for automated honeycomb potting, according to the manufacturer.

Thus, up to 20% of material savings can be reached, leading to a major cost reduction from the very beginning of the aircraft manufacturing value chain on and helping the industry to buy less material and avoid scrap production.

Low viscosity

“Due to its extreme low viscosity, for the first time ever, precise, homogenous and reliable filling even of a single smallest honeycomb cell of a size of down to 3 mm is possible, also for automated mass production. Fillings in circles, angular shapes or honeycomb form are possible for the local reinforcements,” the company adds.

With regards to environmental and health aspects, Von Roll acts as a pioneer in completely excluding for the first time smell-causing and volatilisation-causing anhydrides, as well as halogens and solvents. Furthermore, while current core fillers consist of two components, which need to be mixed before using, the Next Gen core filler comes in a single component, directly ready-for-use.

Compatibility

The Next Gen core filler is compatible with phenolics and epoxies. For example, it is compatible with a new class of Von Roll´s FST compliant prepregs belonging to the EP200 family, that provides highest mechanical properties and surfacing quality on standard honeycomb cores and can be processed together with the core filler on any kind of honeycomb support.

Two variants of the Next Gen core filler are available today, EP401 and EP411, to offer to the market solutions which are compatible with or without the use of a dedicated press. Von Roll has supplied the Next Gen core filler to certified European Tier 1s in the aerospace industry and is working on the product qualification at short notice.

www.vonroll.com

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