Carbon fibre filled resin

Written by: Chris Shaw | Published:

Weight reduction for both fuel and systems cost savings remains a long-haul strategy for the airline industry, and has opened up another major development opportunity for SABIC Innovative Plastics and its customers.

The company has created a new high-performance compound based on aerospace carbon fibre technology coupled with Ultem* polyetherimide (PEI) resin, creating a space-age solution to replace heavier airline-grade die-cast and machined aluminum for aircraft interiors components, slashing weight by up to 50%.

Vaupell, a global contract manufacturer of custom injection-molded components and assemblies with 60 years of experience, is working with SABIC Innovative Plastics to validate the new Ultem resin materials in aircraft seating components.

"Our new carbon fibre filled Ultem resin family is a great example of our strategy to further expand our premier technologies to solve our aircraft customers' toughest challenges while giving them tremendous opportunities to grow their businesses," said Cathleen Hess, global product director, SABIC Innovative Plastics. "Relationships with industry leaders such as Vaupell ensure that these materials meet the specific requirements of our customers and deliver measurable value. We're taking another technological leap forward with these innovative new carbon-fiber-filled Ultem resins, to help global OEMs usher in a new era of cost-effective and lighter weight aircraft design."

Building upon Ultem resin's proven capabilities for aircraft interiors, carbon fibre filled Ultem resin complies with FAA flammability FAR 25.853, smoke density and heat release requirements for OSU 65/65. In addition to tray table arms, potential applications for the new grades include armrests, footrests and galley items such as coffee maker chassis. Vaupell will conduct further load capability testing and fatigue testing later this year.

The Ultem resin materials deliver better tensile performance and have approximately
50% lower specific gravity (SG) than aircraft-grade aluminum and, in addition to reducing the weight of aluminum, the resin grades avoid the need for machining and other secondary processes, streamlining production and driving down total system costs.

They also enable part consolidation to reduce points of failure and expand design freedom vs. metal. In processing, these resins provide double the flow, accelerating productivity and enabling thin-wall molded parts for even greater weight savings.

Injection molding is just one of the processing choices for these new Ultem resins; they are also suitable for extrusion into panels for galley storage and similar applications. Components can be powder coated, painted or plated.

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