GKN Aerospace delivers RTM demonstrator tool for Wing of Tomorrow
The mid-sized demonstrator RTM tool for next-generation composite wing spars. Source | GKN Aerospace
A milestone in the Wing of Tomorrow programme, GKN Aerospace (Redditch, U.K.) has designed, manufactured and delivered a mid-scale resin transfer molding (RTM) demonstrator tool to the company’s Filton facility. The tool provides a fully-functioning automated low-pressure RTM system for the composite wing spar being produced through Airbus’ Wing of Tomorrow program. According to GKN Aerospace, the spar is considered one of the most challenging aerospace components to design and manufacture, and this will be one of the first times that RTM technology has been used on this scale.
GKN Aerospace engineers have reportedly used proven tool-making knowledge from the automotive industry in developing the demonstrator. The 4-meter development testbed will deliver a rate 60 automated manufacturing solution and is said to significantly improve the productivity of the composite manufacturing process by removing one third of the production steps involved.
GKN is utilizing Solvay's advanced high-performance resin infusion system for the spar development activity. According to Solvay, the resin has been specifically designed to meet the demanding rate capability and structural performance requirements for the manufacture of single aisle primary structures in a safe and economical way.
Technology will be moving from traditional, pre-impregnated resin material to dry composite fibers that are injected with resin as part of the initial manufacturing process for the wing spar, said to result in significant weight savings.
GKN Aerospace says development work for this project will stretch into 2021. The company is using its experience in designing and manufacturing composite wing spars and assembling fixed trailing edges on the A330, A400M and A350.
“We are proud to be a partner of Airbus in the Wing of Tomorrow research programme and excited about the delivery of the mid-size demonstrator tool,” says John Pritchard, GKN Aerospace’s CEO for Aerostructures and Systems Europe and Asia. “This development confirms GKN Aerospace’s world-leading position in not just RTM technology, but also in advanced aerostructures manufacturing. Combined with the Aerospace Technology Institute, which is providing vital support for the U.K.’s position on the next generation of aircraft, we will be able to deliver breakthroughs in technology as well as benchmark levels of price, quality and repeatability.”
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