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Aerospace·Thermoplastic prepreg tape continues to show potential in the field of aerospace composite materials

Views: 69     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2021-09-24      Origin: Site

Web Industries reports that due to the flexibility and advantages of thermoplastic prepreg, they have increased R&D activities in several aerospace markets.

It is said that as commercial-scale thermoplastic composite production matures, improvements in material consistency and uniformity have increased yields and reduced the burden of quality assurance testing. Shown here is the width test of the thermoplastic composite slit tape.

Aerospace efforts will not necessarily follow suit, at least for Web Industries, a company that provides thermoplastic prepreg tape slitting services for various customer applications. It is said that aerospace, aviation, urban air transportation (UAM) and military field research work has been going all out to realize the next generation of aircraft-composite materials, especially thermoplastic prepreg tape, has been the key to many of these efforts.

Of course, thermoplastic prepreg tapes are not new, but their interest has increased in the past few years, especially for commercial aerospace and other high-performance applications. Compared with thermosetting prepreg tapes, thermoplastic composites have advantages such as higher toughness, easier recycling, ability to be processed outside the autoclave (OOA), and storage at room temperature.

Web Industries is at the forefront of the development and application of thermoplastic composites. The most notable feature is its multiple formatting functions, including cutting thermoset and thermoplastic prepregs provided by suppliers into different shapes and formats to meet specific customer requirements. Require. With its prepreg tape slitting production lines located in US and European factories, Web’s capabilities include formatting high-performance polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK) and polyaryl ether ketone (PAEK) thermoplastic prepreg tapes, They are most commonly used in the aerospace industry.

TP prepreg tapes for secondary aerospace structures-and challenges from primary structures

At present, most of the aviation structural activities in thermoplastic prepregs are concentrated on secondary structures, such as clips, inspection panels or substructures, while the main flight-critical structures such as wings and fuselages are made of thermosetting composite materials or metal. Into.

Thermoplastic prepregs can be formatted for various automated manufacturing technologies, including wire-wound prepreg tape for AFP, mat-wound prepreg tape for ATL, and wire-wound for additive manufacturing.

"Many challenges are related to risk management," said the relevant personnel, and part of the problem has always been the growing pain of the thermoplastic prepreg provided by the supplier. Thermoplastic materials are not as mature as thermosetting tapes. According to Hou, although thermosetting tape has decades of mass production scale and perfect experience, the use of thermoplastic materials in the automated process of mass production is still in its infancy.

However, Web Industries cooperates with various composite material suppliers, and the relevant personnel said that the overall material consistency and scale have been greatly improved in the past few years. He said that the width, length, thickness, fiber tension, and resin uniformity of materials are now more consistent and of higher quality.

Another obstacle to making larger thermoplastic primary structures is that thermoplastic materials tend to be more expensive than thermoset materials. "If there is no overall cost advantage, it will not be more widely adopted," the researchers pointed out that collaboration and technical assistance are essential to help reduce process costs. "When everyone works together from the early stages of the project to the end to achieve a common goal, we can achieve better solutions."

Process flexibility and material customization

Overall, the researchers believe that thermoplastic tape has great potential and increasing actions now and in the future, and flexibility is one of the main turning points for customers.

At present, thermosetting prepreg tapes are mainly limited to automatic fiber placement (AFP), which is limited by autoclave curing and storage temperature requirements. The researchers say that thermoplastic composites can enable more flexible process methods and OOA processing, including tape formats for automatic tape laying (ATL) and filaments for additive manufacturing.

According to Web Industries, commercial-scale formatting and supply chain solutions are essential to provide aerospace structural manufacturers with the thermoplastic cut prepreg tape needed to support the projected industry's construction speed.

Thermoplastic prepregs can also be customized for specific applications. According to Hou, the end user wants to match the material to each application. He said that because thermoplastics are highly adaptable, specific formats can be developed for specific parts, thereby maximizing material usage and reducing customers' downstream costs. Since UAM, space, and military are highly active areas, relevant personnel pointed out that the activities are tailored for each project rather than each aircraft project.

Relevant personnel said that formatting thermoplastic materials for specific applications can also help reduce waste. In the aerospace industry, the purchase-to-flight ratio, that is, the ratio of the quality of raw materials to finished products, is a key issue. The goal is to make the ratio of purchase to flight as close as possible to 1:1, which means there is almost no waste. Relevant personnel pointed out that providing the correct materials in the correct format for the correct application can greatly reduce waste. He said that in the aerospace industry, 30% of waste is "very common." To keep the waste below that level, all parties need to work together.

"It is vital to combine materials and processes," the relevant person added, "Thermoplastic prepreg tape is becoming a viable solution for aerospace structural manufacturers."

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