Fiberforge Corp. (Glenwood Springs, Colo., USA) announced on April 8 that it has delivered 20 thermoplastic advanced composite aircraft engine brackets for testing and evaluation by Honeywell Aerospace.
Fiberforge’s manufacturing process combines speed, automation and efficient use of materials to create lightweight, structural composite parts cost effectively. These high-performance brackets are 20 percent lighter than the existing titanium parts while maintaining part stiffness and all existing interfaces. In production, the parts are projected to reduce system cost through weight savings, cost-effective manufacturing using Fiberforge’s proprietary RELAY process and a design that establishes a common form factor for use in multiple engine configurations.
The engine brackets are structural components that support several engine components, including hoses, cables, and printed circuit boards via integrated captive hardware. Traditionally fabricated from titanium, these replacement brackets now comprise carbon fiber reinforced PEEK thermoplastic tape supplied by TenCate Advanced Composites USA (Morgan Hill, Calif., USA). This project is said to break new ground in demonstrating the advantages of thermoplastic advanced composites in extreme vibration and dynamic loading conditions seen in many aviation products.
In order to be included in first quarter 2010 turbofan engine testing and evaluation, these brackets were designed, fabricated and delivered 23 days after the receipt of order. This was made possible through close collaboration between Honeywell and Fiberforge and the high level of experience within Fiberforge’s engineering team in all aspects of the development process, including advanced composite part design, tooling design and part manufacturing.
“This is an exciting program for Fiberforge,” states David Cramer, Fiberforge’s chief technology officer. “Working closely with Honeywell and our suppliers, we are able to demonstrate Fiberforge’s ability to develop, rapidly prototype and manufacture high-performance, high-quality advanced-composite products. This is a landmark application for both Fiberforge and for the thermoplastic advanced composites industry in general. It also demonstrates that these materials offer strong potential for lightweighting in aircraft by replacing steel, aluminum and titanium. Our mission is to help customers capture this lightweighting potential to create a competitive advantage in their products.”