13 May 2020 News Innovative solution

Welding technology for thermoplastic composites: Latécoère partners with the Institut de Soudure Group and Arkema

Wednesday 13 May 2020, the Institut de Soudure Group and Arkema, in partnership with Hexcel, Latécoère and Stelia Aerospace won the 2020 JEC Jury Innovation Award in aeronautics category with their Innovative Solution for Welding (ISW) technology for thermoplastic composites.

This solution, jointly developed and patented by Institut de Soudure Group and Arkema, respectively expert in welding technology and expert in specialty polymers, provides very high performance welding for thermoplastic composites assemblies in aeronautics. The new process, first targeted at PEKK/Carbon composites for aerostructures, can be used for welding any thermoplastic reinforced with carbon, glass or aramid fibers.

The development of thermoplastic composites in aeronautics is a big opportunity for the coming years, but in order to be cost effective, thermoplastic composite parts need to be assembled by welding rather than riveting. This innovative technology relies on the development of a robust process, based on a new dynamic induction welding head, which allows the composite assembly to reach the high performance targets set by OEMs and aeronautic parts manufacturers.

The innovative process offers outstanding benefits:

  • A welding joint coefficient of about 85% compared to the reference composite material,
  • Reduction of post operations,
  • Reduction of weight,
  • Dynamic and fully automated/monitored solution,
  • Use of recyclable thermoplastic materials
  • Low energy consumption due to a very localized heating.

Hexcel, Arkema’s strategic partner for the development of thermoplastic composites for aeronautics, provided high-performance carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic (PEKK) materials for the high quality welding targeted by the ISW process

From the beginning of 2019, some feasibility studies have been carried out with major aeronautic players such as Stelia Aerospace and Latécoère in order to evaluate the ISW solution, especially for aircraft door structures.

From 2020, the main objective is to increase the maturity of the technology, applying it to specific aeronautics projects in order to lead it to a future aeronautic qualification.

 

Credit: Arkema