NHYTE introduces the concept of a continuous automated chain of processes enabling the manufacturing of new integrated greener aero-structures with multifunctional capabilities.
In more detail, the project focuses on developing an innovative automated working cell that will realise the overall production process of integrated aerostructures, starting from the hybrid thermoplastic material fabrication and concluding with the demonstration of its advantages through the application on representative demonstration aerostructures.
The key elements of this approach are:
- Development of an innovative multifunctional thermoplastic prepreg material, based on a hybrid semicrystalline-amorphous polymer concept;
- Development of a pre-industrial continuous automated process for fabrication of hybrid thermoplastic prepreg materials suitable to be processed by Automated Fiber Placement machine;
- Manufacturing of complex shape aero-structures by means of in-situ consolidation process made possible by Automated Fiber Placement technology and Continuous Forming process;
- Application of the multifunctional material to realize an integrated aero-structure by using advanced out of autoclave joining methods for reducing fastener number and decreasing manufacturing and operational parts;
- Optimization of products and processes to be developed with regard to their quality and cost, as well as environmental and Life Cycle Assessment, according to ECO-quotation procedures and weight and cost saving.
The Consortium has set a target for weight saving not less than 5% for primary structures, namely not less than 8% for narrow body fuselage structures. Target for composite structure manufacturing cost reduction is up to 25% for primary structures. The usage of advanced numerical tools and development of new ones will return also a reduction in design and certification costs (incl. testing) up to 20% for primary structures. Further reduction of full life cycle cost is expected from recycling of scrap materials (up to 40%) and end of life structures.
The successful implementation of the innovative working cell, including the production and application of the new high-performing material, will enable the enhancements of the automated fiber placement system aimed to a maturation of the industrial in-situ consolidation process for thermoplastic composite parts. This will in turn lead to an environmentally friendlier and more efficient future for aviation while will further accelerate the competitiveness of the European aeronautical industry.