Fokker Aerostructures panel demonstrates thermoplastics fuselage potential

Dutch thermoplastics composites specialist Fokker Aerostructures featured its demonstrator fuselage panel at JEC Europe 2014, emphasizing the potential of the material in aerospace applications.

The featured country at JEC Europe 2014 (March 11-3, Paris, France) was the Netherlands, and among those leading the charge for the Dutch was Fokker Aerostructures (Hoogeveen, the Netherlands), which featured in the JEC Innovation Awards section of the show hall a thermoplastic composite demonstrator fuselage panel.

Although the part was not an award winner, it did garner much attention, including from the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, shown here being educated about the structure and significance of the panel by Arnt Offringa, director R&D, at Fokker Aerostructures.

Offringa told CW that the panel is comprised of a carbon fiber/PEEK prepreg provided by Cytec Aerospace Materials (Tempe, Ariz., USA). The panel is laid up in a female tool, with the vertical stringers placed first and the skin placed on top via automated tape laying (ATL). The skin and stringers are co-cured, after which the horizontal frames are induction welded (see close-up image of stringer and frame intersection).

Fokker is part of the Thermoplastic Affordable Primary Aircraft Structure (TAPAS) consortium, which is entering its second phase of life and is working with Airbus and other suppliers to develop thermoplastic aerostructures for real-world application.