IHI to make aero engine parts with Surface Generation technology

Japan-based IHI Corp. will use Surface Generation's Production to Functional Specifications (PtFS) tooling process to create carbon fiber/thermoplastic composite jet engine parts.

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Surface Generation (Rutland, U.K.), a provider of advanced composite processing technologies, announced on April 10 that major engineering firm IHI Corp. (Tokyo, Japan), will use Surface Generation's Production to Functional Specifications (PtFS) process to create lightweight jet engine parts for a major next-generation, single-aisle commercial aircraft program.

IHI has signed a five year, multi-million pound contract to use Surface Generation's patented PtFS mold temperature control technologies to produce thousands of carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic guide vanes. An industry first, these will be used to connect fuel efficient engines to their cowlings.

The PtFS process encompasses a range of active thermal management technologies, allowing temperatures to be dynamically controlled to the exact requirements of each mold area and process stage. This allows manufacturers to continuously adapt heating and cooling levels in real-time, assuring quality and maximising throughput.

Hideo Morita, Civil Aero-Engine Division engineering general manager at IHI Corp., comments, “We’ve long recognized the benefits of using thermoplastics in commercial aircraft engines, but traditional processes for curing composites were not viable for high-volume production of complex structures such as structural guide vanes. The speed, precision, efficiency and reliability of the PtFS process enable us to cost-effectively mass-produce these for the first time.”

Ben Halford, chief executive at Surface Generation, comments, “Every gram counts when it comes to building lighter more fuel-efficient aircraft, so being able to economically mass-produce complex composite parts is a major step forward for the industry. We are very proud to be working with IHI and KBK to contribute to reducing fuel consumption while enabling aircraft to carry additional payload.”