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6th March 2019, Thornton Cleveleys

Unlocking efficiency potential for thermoplastic composite parts

Coriolis Composites Fibre Placement. © Coriolis Composites

Coriolis Composites Fibre Placement. © Coriolis Composites

Victrex and Coriolis Composites have teamed up to push the boundaries of thermoplastic unidirectional tape (TP UDT) prepreg lay-up and consolidation and improve the manufacturing efficiency of composite parts. At the JEC World Technical Conferences 2019 in Paris next week, they will jointly present the results of their efforts to address one of the aerospace industry’s key challenges: how to make composite parts at a high speed and lower processing temperatures.

Coriolis Composites and Victrex have each utilised their own specific technologies and know-how in teaming up to use an Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) process using parameters that unlock the potential of Victrex AE 250 UDT, which could benefit engineers at the aerospace OEMs and in the tier and processor supply chain. Specifically, the cooperation on composite process development could enable the aerospace industry to create composite parts faster and more economically.

The results of the study are unprecedented in terms of lay down speed at acceptable porosity levels for TP UD laminates, according to the partners. This is a decisive step towards enabling the market to scale up manufacturing and realize the benefits of TP UD tapes. Victrex AE 250 UDT holds the potential for manufacturers to exceed speed of manufacturing of an existing TP UDT intended for the same applications, and rivals Automated Fibre Placement/Automated Tape Laying (AFP/ATL) deposition rates for thermosets without the necessary lengthy autoclave consolidation time required for thermoset UDT (TS UDT).

“During the presentation, we will demonstrate how, with Victrex AE 250 based UDT prepreg tape, we have been able to achieve a faster lay-up speed when followed by Out of Autoclave (OoA) consolidation. The results of our study are a significant improvement over what we’ve seen for a similar TP UD tape,” said Dr Stuart Green, Market Technology Manager for Aerospace at Victrex.

Key to the cooperation is the joint offering of an optimised AFP process that delivers impressive time and energy saving benefits in both in-situ and Out of Autoclave (OoA) consolidation, as compared to another polyketone UD tape intended for similar applications.

“We developed a set of conditions that demonstrated time and energy savings, indicating the potential benefits of the deployment of AE 250 UDT composites for large scale structural aircraft parts,” said Dr Justin Merotte, Composites Project Engineer at Coriolis Composites. “In particular, the results showed that a significant increase in lay-up speed was possible with Victrex AE 250 UDT while at the same time achieving the low levels of porosity desired for in-situ consolidation.”

Victrex AE 250 UDT is a high-performance thermoplastic composite prepreg tape that was designed by Victrex to have mechanical, physical and chemical resistance properties typical of the polyaryletherketone (PAEK) polymer family, such as PEEK, but with a 40°C (104°F) lower crystalline melting temperature, at only 305°C (581°F).

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