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19th April 2018, Orlando, FL

Recycling carbon fibre from commercial aircraft

Of all the structural elements comprising an aircraft, carbon fibre is the most arduous to recycle. Universal Asset Management (UAM), an aviation leader in disassembly, full recycling solutions, as well as component sales, warehousing and third-party logistics, has completely recycled carbon fibre from commercial aircraft.

To illustrate this achievement, UAM presented a 3D-printed engine stand manufactured from carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) from commercial aircraft at the three-day MRO Americas conference last week. The resulting second-generation carbon fibre material is fit as raw resource for industrial use. “As such, it becomes a feasible supply for advanced additive manufacturing supply chains, utilized by automotive and other manufacturing industries in need of cost-competitive carbon fibre,” the company explains.

Carbon fibre in aircraft

Of all the structural elements comprising an aircraft, carbon fibre is the most arduous to recycle. The company believes the efforts during the past fifteen years have not yielded a viable solution that wholly completes the circular economy of carbon fibre back into manufacturing. Now, the company hopes to pave the way to total aircraft recyclability.

UAM’s proprietary engineering in the use of CFRP from retired aircraft is a harbinger of future products under development by UAM's Innovation Technology Team. CFRP use is on the rise, as today's modern aircraft are now made of approximately 50% composite material, compared to aircraft from the 1970’s, which were manufactured with less than 1% of carbon-based materials.

Innovative and bold process

The UAM design team is led by Keri Wright, Chief Executive Officer. CFRP was collected through UAM's proprietary process, filtered for purity and refined into pellets, to therefore be used as raw material for 3D printing. The innovative and bold process applies material science and advanced manufacturing techniques pioneered by UAM's Innovation Technology Team.

“As a world’s first, this achievement extends beyond aviation. UAM is the only company to harvest CFRP from end-of-life aircraft to be re-introduced to manufacturing. We are an innovative technology company that is honoured to be recognized as a leader in recycling and sustainability,” commented Ms Wright.

“This unique and proprietary process is an industry first in the total recyclability of aircraft. The possibilities of our applications are only limited by one's own imagination. UAM, along with its parent company Aircraft Recycling International Limited (ARI), remains committed as the global leader in complete aircraft recycling solutions.”

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