SGL/EADS to develop braided fuselage-frame concept for A350 XWB

The BRAF (BRAided Frames) technology is for the continuous manufacture of circular composite fuselage frames, applying carbon fiber and glass/polyester rovings.

SGL Group (Wiesbaden, Germany) reports that its subsidiary, SGL Kuempers, and EADS-IW (Innovation Works, Munich, Germany) have formed a joint venture to develop BRAF (BRAided Frames) technology for the continuous manufacture of circular composite fuselage frames for the forthcoming Airbus A350 XWB wide-body passenger plane.

Based on technology used to make carbon fiber preforms for Munich-based automaker BMW’s bumper supports, the airframe process automatically wraps and braids fiber filaments around a circular metal frame of about the diameter of the fuselage. The frame is moved through multiple winding/braiding stations at a fixed rate of speed while unidirectional braiding technology developed by EADS-IW draws on two bobbin systems, applying carbon fiber rovings drawn from one and applying the filaments of a glass/polyester fiber alloy from the other (the polyester reportedly dissolves during component cure).

The system was built by the Composite Technology Center near the Airbus facility in Stade, Germany. The first frames were made in December 2008, followed by testing and process optimization. SGL says it remains to be seen to what extent this system will be used in the fabrication of actual aircraft structures.