Rapid welding of thermoplastic brackets to thermoset composite structures

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  • No need for fastening or traditional adhesive bonding
  • Incorporation of special thermoplastic polymer surfacing layer onto surface of thermoset composite laminates
  • Winner of JEC Asia Innovation Award, Category: Thermoplastic Process

Many composite structures and assemblies include small brackets, fittings and attachments that support only minor loads but are vital to the performance of the structure as a whole. They are most often attached after the main composite structure has been manufactured, as they can be difficult or expensive to incorporate into the structure during the original manufacturing process.

No need for fastening or traditional adhesive bonding

A novel method to rapidly weld thermoplastic brackets and fittings onto pre-manufactured thermoset composite panels has been developed by Advanced Composite Structures Australia that eliminates the need for fastening or traditional adhesive bonding.

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Incorporation of special thermoplastic polymer surfacing layer onto surface of thermoset composite laminates

This new technology, known as COFA (COmposite Fitting Attachment), works via the incorporation of a special thermoplastic polymer surfacing layer onto the surface of the thermoset composite laminates, which then makes it possible to weld brackets designed with a compatible thermoplastic polymer surface. The bracket can be rapidly welded onto the laminate using a fast interface heating method, such as ultrasonic welding, which enables the joint to be made in a few seconds. The joints are strong enough for the requirements of many non-structural brackets.

Applications: aerospace

Typical aerospace structures require thousands of small brackets, fittings and attachments to be installed for a variety of non-structural or semi-structural applications such as the support of wiring, ducting, insulation, spacers, latches and the like. The COFA technology enables such brackets to be quickly assembled to a wide variety of composite structures, with a significant saving in process time and cost, and with the ability to remove and re-install brackets as necessary. In parallel with the specific developments and applications for the aerospace market, Advanced Composite Structures Australia is working with a number of companies to implement the COFA technology in a fast growing automotive market, where rapid assembly is a key driver.

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