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VictrexR Peek Carbon Fibre Composite Brackets Reduce Fuel Costs on Next Generation Aircraft

19 March 2013

Tri-Mack Plastics has developed VictrexR PEEK composite manufacturing capabilities and produced brackets for use in aircraft structural applications.

According to Victrex, based on current fuel prices and studies, the removal of 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight from a short-range aircraft can save airlines up to $100 in annual fuel costs. "Assuming that the composite brackets can remove 100 kilograms (220.5 pounds) of weight, an airline with 500 short-range aircraft could save up to $5 million per year in fuel costs by making the switch from metal," explained Ralf Weidig, Composites Business Leader for Victrex.

Besides up to 70% weight savings compared to metals such as stainless steel, aluminium, and titanium, Victrex explains that the manufacturing process used by Tri-Mack provides several benefits leading to faster part manufacturing cycle times compared to thermosets. "Thermoset composite parts typically take several hours to complete," said Tom Kneath, Director of Sales and Marketing at Tri-Mack. "The Victrex PEEK composite brackets have manufacturing cycle times measured in minutes. That speed, paired with the ability to recycle the material for other applications, takes us to a whole new level of processing efficiency that isn't achievable with thermosets."

Component integrity is also critical to keeping aircraft in service in order to minimise maintenance and downtime. Thermoplastic composites made from Victrex PEEK can provide the chemical and corrosion resistance to jet fuel, hydraulic fluid, de-icing solution, salt, steam, water and other commonly used service fluids that would typically undermine the longevity of metals.

"Victrex PEEK composites can offer between four and five times higher fatigue strength, specific stiffness, and specific strength when compared to traditional metals such as aluminium," said Weidig. "These mechanical properties along with vibration and noise dampening improvements make Victrex PEEK composites an attractive and viable solution for engineers looking to replace heavy metals and thermosets."