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9/5/2017 | 1 MINUTE READ

Spirit AeroSystems expands UK composites capabilities

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Spirit’s in-house-developed resin transfer molding (RTM) process will be used to make spoilers for the Airbus A320 family at its Prestwick, Scotland, facility.

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Spirit AeroSystems (Wichita, KS, US) announced on Aug. 31 that it has leveraged advanced composite technology from its research and development portfolio to introduce new work at the company's UK facility. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited Spirit's site in Prestwick, Ayrshire, to share details of the new single-aisle spoiler work on the Airbus A320 family programs.

Spirit says its resin transfer molding (RTM) solution supports the high-volume production of spoilers and other monolithic components and promises to deliver improved quality and significant cost savings. Spirit says it will establish a world-class manufacturing platform involving state-of-the-art automation and robotics to meet its customer's rate demands, which are currently at more than 600 spoilers per month. The Scottish government is providing investment support to secure the project, which will result in an increase in headcount at the facility.

The RTM design solution is designed to meet the increasingly complex geometries required for advanced composite structures and is said to greatly increases design certainty and structural integrity throughout the completed component. The company says this technology, in combination with a fully defined manufacturing process and industrialization strategy, presents an alternative solution to the current composite sandwich structure. Spirit and Airbus have been collaborating on the research and development of the new technology since 2014. The Aerospace Technology Institute, a UK government aerospace research and development institute, also provided a funding match to the effort.

The RTM solution offers non-crimp fabric skins and stiffeners while maintaining existing product interfaces. It allows for greater process control, reduced cycle time and lower energy consumption. Spirit will also use Spirit Exact, a suite of technologies that allow parts to become tools, for assembly of the RTM "closed cell" composite box. Spirit has completed RTM technology demonstrations at its Advanced Technology Centre in Prestwick and is scheduled to begin production of the single-aisle spoilers with the new process in 2019.

"We are pleased to utilize this innovative technology to not only bring improved quality and savings to our customer but also to secure new work for our U.K. facility," says Scott McLarty, vice president and general manager of Spirit's UK and Malaysia facilities. "This is an opportunity for us to leverage our technology, design, engineering and manufacturing expertise to better support the needs of our customers, and it strengthens our ability to secure future work."

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