PEEK replaces aluminium and titanium in commercial aircraft brackets

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  • Weight reduction of 40%
  • Electrostatically dissipative PEEK for harsh environments
  • Manufacturing cell solely dedicated to production of PEEK brackets
  • Elimination of secondary processing saves costs

A new bracket technology suitable for use in hydraulic and fuel brackets for the wings, centre box and fuel tanks of aircraft can result in significant weight reduction of at least 40% compared to metals. Improving the fuel economy of aircraft further, along with cost savings and streamlined manufacturing, has been a principal driver for the bracket manufacturer Denroy Plastics Ltd. The UK-based plastics injection moulder developed the brackets in close collaboration with Bombardier and Victrex.

Electrostatically dissipative PEEK for harsh environments

Made of an electrostatically dissipative Victrex PEEK-ESD polymer, with proven performance in harsh environments including aggressive aerospace fluids, the Victrex solution is for the first time specified in commercial aircraft, i.e. Bombardier’s CSeries, Global and Learjet aircraft.

The ambitious target was clearly defined: To replace small to medium-sized machined aluminium and titanium brackets intended to last for the life of the aircraft even though many of these brackets are constantly immersed in fuel. In addition to developing a reliable solution, weight and cost savings were keys to success. With cost savings and streamlined manufacturing among the advantages of using injection-moulded polymers, the new bracket technology is now being introduced to the aircraft industry.

Manufacturing cell solely dedicated to production of PEEK brackets

Denroy Plastics has adopted a consistent approach to replacing metal brackets with Victrex´s PPEK material. “Here at Denroy, we’ve invested in a manufacturing cell solely dedicated to the production of PEEK brackets. We have now developed optimised moulding processes and invested in new equipment,” stated Jim Knowles, Sales & Marketing Manager at Denroy Plastics, who sees PEEK aerospace brackets as a growth area for Denroy.

In the case of the Denroy brackets, to support design freedom, special fillers in the PEEK material are used, which do not break down under shear, i.e. when passing through the restricted gate opening. This allows mouldings to be produced under the best possible moulding conditions without affecting the electrostatic discharge properties of the components.

Elimination of secondary processing saves costs

For Bombardier, the new bracket technology results in significant cost savings: cost savings during manufacturing can be achieved due to consolidated parts, integration of complex shapes and geometries, elimination of secondary processing (e.g. machining and painting), as well as by reducing both scrap material and production time.

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