GKN Aerospace has been awarded a contract by Boeing to develop and supply advanced titanium metal matrix composite (TMMC) thrust links for the Boeing 787, the first use of TMMC in a commercial application.
TMMC is an advanced engineered material consisting of silicon carbide fibre and titanium powder that has been diffusion bonded. This creates a hybrid material that is stiffer and stronger than conventional titanium alloys. TMMC offers major weight savings of 25% to 40% over traditional steel or inconel thrust links and increased temperature tolerance over monolithic titanium.
A new TMMC manufacturing process has been developed by GKN Aerospace’s partner, FMW Composite Systems Inc. FMW developed this cost-effective method of TMMC manufacture by producing their own fiber material, and using powdered titanium in the diffusion process to keep material costs low. GKN Aerospace and FMW will partner on this contract and in seeking other teaming opportunities for TMMC in the aerospace sector.
The Boeing 787 thrust link will comprise an FMW manufactured TMMC centre tube, which GKN Aerospace will plasma-weld to two machined titanium end lugs, final machine and assemble. GKN Aerospace will also manage the contract, supplying two versions of the thrust link to enable integration with either the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 or the GEnx engine.
Frank Bamford, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for GKN Aerospace comments: “”GKN Aerospace has a reputation for the successful application of state of the art technologies to create effective operational products – and this is something we are achieving here with our partners FMW. FMW’s innovative TMMC manufacturing skills and our expertise in program management – and in the complex welding of highly loaded titanium structures using our low-cost machining centre in Mexico – means the Boeing 787 will be the first of many civil aircraft to benefit from this immensely promising development.””
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