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Thermoplastic success for aerospace

Objective is to produce composite parts that can replace metallic materials such as steel, aluminium and titanium.

11th March 2024

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Paris

Transport/​Aerospace, Sustainable

At the recent JEC 2024 in Paris, Arkema and Hexcel displayed the first aeronautical structure made of thermoplastic composites, among other benefits potentially leading to the easier recycling at end of life compared to thermoset parts.

The high-performance thermoplastic composite structure was designed and manufactured using Arkema’s Kepstan PEKK resin and Hexcel HexTow AS7 and IM7 carbon fibres as part of the collaborative HAICoPAS project.

The primary goal of HAICoPAS is to optimise the design and production process for unidirectional composite tapes made from high-performance thermoplastic resins and continuous carbon fibres. Additionally, the project is aiming to develop a more efficient tape placement technology and a continuous and dynamic in-situ welding (ISW) assembly system with real-time quality control.

Ultimately, the objective is to produce composite parts that can replace metallic materials such as steel, aluminum and titanium in aircraft structures, achieving both cost competitiveness and higher production rates.

The work to date has successfully overcome the technological barriers identified at the beginning of the project, including the development, implementation and characterisation of carbon/thermoplastic (C/PEKK) tapes, the creation of an automated deposition process for consolidation outside of autoclaves and the establishment of the ISW welding technology for assembly.

The HAICoPAS demonstrator was developed in close collaboration with an industrial advisory committee comprising Airbus and major aerospace suppliers ATC, Daher and Safran.

The HAICoPAS project is a collaborative initiative led by Arkema and Hexcel a, along with industrial partners Ingecal, Coriolis Composites, Pinette Emidecau Industries (PEI) and Institut de Soudure, as well as a consortium of university laboratories.

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