Advanced aerospace materials
With fuel prices currently accounting for over a third of operating costs, it is now widely recognised that interior composites can deliver significant cost savings in aircraft manufacturing. Given the valued combination of low weight, high strength, and processing efficiencies, it’s clear to see why composite materials have a promising future in passenger aircraft interiors.
Demand for the provision of materials that ensure OEMs meet the very stringent fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) mandates set by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 25, remains as crucial as ever. To date, this has very often been the stumbling block for structural solutions, or chemistries such as epoxies, but remains a key focus for Huntsman in product development.
Araldite FST 40002/40003, a high-performance processing solution for aerospace composites interiors, is recognised as an entirely new and significantly advanced development in material science. In combining inherent FST properties with high quality, user-friendly processing methods, Araldite FST 40002/40003 enables efficiently produced interior structural glass and carbon composites, with maximised weight savings. By comparison with other composites solutions such as epoxy prepregs or thermoplastic organosheets, this new formulation’s RTM and infusion processing capabilities enable – for the first time ever, says Huntsman – the production of structural FST parts that are unrestricted by the degree of part complexity and function integration.
As research into benzoxazine resins continues, these systems are showing their value as a cost-effective replacement for low-cost phenolic resins in aerospace interiors. In curing without gas release, benzoxazine resins provide excellent surface finish and laminate quality and are also compliant with health and safety regulations.
Meeting the same FST and heat release requirements as phenolics, the new benzoxazine – Araldite XU 35710 FST – offers superior properties and provides a cost-effective alternative aimed at a wider range of applications including semi-structural parts. Compared to traditional benzoxazine resins, Araldite XU 35710 FST offers low viscosity which makes it suitable for the formulation of solvent and hot-melt prepregs, as well as for systems designed for direct processes, such as RTM.
As part of its ongoing drive to enable market differentiation for formulators, Huntsman continues to add new and innovative high-performance materials to its range of qualified building blocks. One of the latest additions to the company’s building blocks range is Araldite MT 40050 FST, a non-formulated but structurally fire resistant thermosetting epoxy resin that can replace or be combined with standard epoxies in prepreg formulations.
To summarise, composites currently account for just 20 to 25% of the total interior weight of an aircraft but there is huge potential for this to increase to as much as 30-40% within the next ten years. In this context, the new generation of composite materials has an important part to play in answering industry demand for ‘alternative’ offerings that meet all performance criteria now seen as standard, whilst delivering new advantages in the form of better processing efficiencies that can ultimately help the airlines to retain a competitive edge in the face of rising operating costs.
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