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Design of Complex Aerospace Fuel Housing Achieves 50 Percent Weight Saving
WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa.—In the manufacturing of complex fuel housings for the global aircraft industry, cost savings of more than 30 percent and weight savings of up to 50 percent can be achieved versus existing metal designs by combining fusible-core technology with a PEEK polymer. Egmond Plastic, an injection molding specialist, recently combined its own fusible-core technology with a high performance PEEK polymer provided by Victrex to achieve these savings via efficient production, including part consolidation. For example, carbon fiber reinforced grades of Victrex® PEEK polymer eliminate the use of a separate bearing, which can be integrated into the overall design of the housing.
An aerospace fuel housing made from Victrex® PEEK polymer achieved a 50% weight saving.
Photo courtesy of Victrex/Egmond Plastic.
Fuel housings for aerospace applications have very complex inner geometries that are not moldable using conventional injection molding technology. Egmond Plastic’s fusible-core technology enables moldings of complex hollow housings, manifolds, and pipes.
“Our technology, in combination with carbon fiber reinforced Victrex PEEK polymer, delivers numerous benefits,” said Richard Brandwijk, managing director at Egmond Plastic, in a press release. “These include cost reduction, enhanced manufacturing speed, and weight reduction, leading to improved fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. Along with part consolidation, this exceptional technology and material combination enables the design of very complex parts, beyond the capabilities of standard injection molding and metal processes.”
Utilizing a near net-shape manufacturing process for the fusible core allows for an 80 percent time saving versus machined parts. Secondary treatments for corrosion protection, such as anodizing, can be eliminated, and lead times can be reduced by 50 percent. These factors collectively result in part cost savings of more than 30 percent versus metal equivalents.
Previously, the end-user had generally specified aluminum for the production of fuel containing parts, but a carbon fiber reinforced PEEK polymer demonstrated superior fatigue performance when compared to aluminum. It does this while meeting all the engineering requirements for this application, including stiffness, effective flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) performance, and resistance to aggressive chemicals, including notably, for this aerospace application, resistance to jet fuel and Skydrol® hydraulic fluid. Parts can range in size all the way up to 30 cm x 30 cm x 40 cm (11.8 in x 11.8 in x 15.8 in), and typically, the process is used for production runs of up to 2,000 parts.
Egmond’s fusible-core technology has already established a proven track record using Victrex PEEK in a fuel pump for the Eurofighter Typhoon, a jet fighter in use in several European countries. This pump has been in successful operational use for more than 20 years.
Skydrol is a registered trademark of Eastman Chemical Company.
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