Fokker Aerostructures BV (Hoogeveen, The Netherlands), a GKN Aerospace company, demonstrated at its stand a thermoplastic composite aircraft demonstrator spoiler, fully functional and consisting of only three parts: top skin, bottom skin and a single spar. Material is carbon fiber/ polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) AS4D/PEKK unidirectional tape, supplied by Cytec Aerospace Materials HQ (Woodland Park, NJ, US). Arnt Offringa, director of Fokker Aerostructures research and development, says that skins have additional plies at load introduction areas, and vary in thickness from slightly more than 1 mm to 4 mm (about 10-30 plies). Additionally, skins are stiffened with simple hat sections, co-melted with the skin during short-duration autoclave processing, used to heat and consolidate the parts to prevent porosity. The flap’s trailing edge has an integral edge stiffener formed by simply folding the top skin over the lower skin. Fokker also announced that it has licensed its Fokker-developed end-effector that features 35,000-Hz ultrasonic heating capabil- ity to a partner machine builder and automation company, Boikon (Leek, The Netherlands), which displayed auto- mated thermoplastic blank production in the demonstration area of the show (see photo). The Falko automated layup head is, according to Boikon, the world’s first layup system based on continuous ultrasonic tacking technology; more information on the automated thermoplastic layup machine is available here: www.fiberplacement.com/#/automated-lay-up
Visitors were plentiful at automated equipment manufacturer MTorres’ (Torres de Elorz, Spain) stand in the wake of its recently announced new-generation hybrid automated tape laying (ATL)/automated fiber placement (AFP) solution. Specifically for wingskin fabrication, the system reportedly triples productivity and reduces scrap significantly.
Its 24-course ATL head can be interchanged with its AFP head in less than two minutes. Reportedly, fiber placement of wingskins is faster and more efficient than tape laying, because tows are cut on the fly without stopping by MTorres’ patented rotary cutting system. Further, the machine gantry has been redesigned to handle the extreme accelerations possible with AFP. The ATL heads can be used for additional tasks, such as laying fiberglass or copper mesh plies, in the same manufacturing cell, improving productivity and logis- tics, says the company.
MTorres also is a key equipment supplier to the Fundacion para la Investigacion, Desarrollo y Aplicacaion de Materiales Compuestos (FIDAMC) located near Getafe, Spain, a collaborative aerocomposites R&D center supported by Airbus and local Spanish government agen- cies. CW will be following an ongoing FIDAMC investigation into the feasibility of an all-thermoplastic wing with integral welded stiffeners. MTorres will supply the automated fiber placement (AFP) head with laser heating for the demon- strator project.
Hexcel (Stamford, UK) held its annual press conference at JEC and reported financial and other news. Nick Stanage, chairman, president and CEO of Hexcel, reported the company had $1.861 billion in 2015 revenue, with 45% of that coming from the US, 39% from Europe and 16% from ROW. Stanage says Hexcel is the largest aerospace weaver in the world and “virtually” the largest honeycomb manu- facturer in the world. Hexcel places US$5 million worth of material on every A350 XWB that Airbus manufactures.
In April, Hexcel opened a new R&T Innovation Center in Duxford, UK, for the development of fast deposition, infusion, fast-curing and advanced modeling technologies, plus low-temperature cure systems for thick prepregs. The industrial market is the company’s fastest growing segment, led by Tim Swords, VP and GM industrial. He commented on Hexcel’s recent acquisition of Formax (now branded Hexcel Reinforcements UK), emphasizing the lineup of multiaxials and NCFs that the business brings.