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Techtextil recognition for future aircraft dismanting process

Fine metal mesh the key to highly effective new joining and separation process.

17th April 2024

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Frankfurt, Germany


Belgian research institute Centexbel will receive a Techtextil Innovation Award at next week’s technical textiles exhibition taking place in Frankfurt (April 23-26), for its development of a new heating process designed to improve the recycling of aircraft parts made from carbon fibre composites.

The process involves applying induction heat to welded textile-reinforced composite materials to separate them, and will be effective with a range of components.

It has been developed as part of the €2 million European Helacs project, funded by European Union’s Clean Sky 2 programme and coordinated by Aitiip Centro Tecnológico in Zaragoxa, Spain, which is developing a full dismantling process also involving selective robotic cutting and pyrolysis.

Joining parts by resistance welding is expected to become a key assembly method for thermoplastic composites in the future and is based on the insertion of a fine metal mesh at the junction interfaces between the parts. An electric current is applied to the mesh which reaches the glass transition temperature of the thermoplastics and combined with an applied pressure creates an effective bonding zone on cooling. The joints have significant advantages over bolts and rivets, creating a full bonding surface, rather than spot joining areas.

Within the Helacs project, Centexbel has carried out a significant number of resistance welding tests focusing not only on assembly, but also on reversing the process once the parts reach end of life.

This could allow the disassembly of complete structures without the need for intermediate processes.

Centexbel will ne presented with the Techtextil New Approaches on Sustainability and Circular Economy Award at a special ceremony held next Tuesday at Messe Franfurt, in the Hall 9 Forum.

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