TPCs on the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350
Although The Boeing Co.’s (Seattle, Wash.) 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus (Toulouse, France) A350 XWB have earned much press as showcases for thermoset composites in aircraft structure, both programs also have advanced the use of thermoplastic composites.
For the A350, Ten Cate (Nijverdal, The Netherlands) and Toho Tenax (Tokyo, Japan) each have announced long-term supply contracts for their carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic prepregs, but the names of specific manufacturers they will supply and the parts they will manufacture were unavailable.
Some TPC applications, however, have been identified. Aerosud (Pretoria, South Africa) has been named as the supplier of continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic frame clips for the A350, which will be used to attach carbon composite fuselage panels to the fuselage skeleton.
Dutch Thermoplastic Composites (Almere, The Netherlands) has begun production on hundreds of different TPC clips and cleats for both the A350 and Boeing 787.
The 787’s overhead baggage bins will be attached using C-shaped and L-shaped TPC ceiling rails made by Xperion-CDI (Avon, Ohio), using its continuous compression molding (CCM) process.
Not least, Marquez (Montréal, Québec, Canada) is supplying the 787’s personal air delivery system (see the sidebar titled "Marquez innovates aircraft TPCs," under "Editor's Picks," at right).
For composite applications, these hollow microstructures displace a lot of volume at low weight and add an abundance of processing and product enhancements.
Commercial production of recycled carbon fiber currently outpaces applications for it, but materials characterization and new technology demonstrations promise to close the gap.
Composites Technology Development's first commercial tank in the Type V category presages growth of filament winding in storage of compressed gases.