There is a growing interest in the use of thermoplastic composite materials within the aerospace industry because parts can be manufactured faster at lower cost and weight. Developments in high-performance thermoplastics are enabling emerging technologies, such as composite overmolding, to widen even further the opportunities for high production throughput and design flexibility, while retaining excellent mechanical properties by combining continuous fiber structures with short fiber reinforced overmolded features. TxV addresses the evolving needs of commercial aerospace by replacing metals and thermoset composites with innovative materials and highly-automated manufacturing to deliver composite parts and assemblies at the pace, rate, and scale needed by the industry.
With outstanding mechanical properties, VICTREX PAEK composites components offer alternative solutions with weight reductions compared to traditional metal and metal alloy parts, based on higher specific strength and stiffness. Hybrid overmolded VICTREX AE™ 250 composites have exhibited up to 60% weight savings and up to 5x specific strength verse metal while also exhibiting improved fatigue performance verse both metal and thermosets.
In the aerospace industry, the light-weighting and mechanical benefits of composite technology are widely accepted, as demonstrated by their steady growth of approximately 400 percent in the past decade. And more recent advancements in composites technology, such as hybrid overmolding can offer the advantage of considerably reducing processing time and costs compared to autoclave manufacturing, have significantly reduced the barriers for aircraft OEMs when making material decisions. Hybrid molding, for example, allows engineers to combine the mechanical properties of the composites with the design flexibility and fast production times of the injection-molding process. Complex parts required in aerospace engineering can now be produced using existing manufacturing infrastructure.
Aerospace parts manufactured from metal are typically milled to a final shape from a billet of aerospace-grade alloys, there is waste inherent in the process of removing material to get to the final shape. The buy-to-fly ratio is therefore relatively high – complex parts, for example, can have a ratio between 8 and 10 to 1. When manufacturing hybrid composite parts, we typically see buy-to-fly ratios around 1, because we’re designing for manufacturing and producing near-net-shape parts.
These new material and processing capabilities bring innovative design freedom for complex parts that weren’t previously possible. The challenge is in developing the material expertise, tools, and manufacturing capabilities to effectively bring a composite part to market. For engineers that are seeking a partner, TXV Aerospace can provide a total solution to support each step, from concept development through to commercialization.