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Victrex Shows New Composites for First Time at JEC World Composites Show

THORNTON CLEVELEYS, U.K.—More than 35,000 aircraft are predicted to be needed worldwide over the next 20 years. It's in this context that manufacturers are fiercely competing to increase the speed of manufacture and reduce the cost and weight of their aircraft, focusing in particular on the use of composites.

Entering the fray at the JEC World Composites Show in Paris are the newly developed VICTREX® AE250 composites, a PAEK-based product family that Victrex claims is lighter, less expensive and easier to produce material than alternatives.

Victrex ( said in a press release that the secret to lighter, less expensive, and easier to produce composites is the result of smarter designs and semi- or fully-automated mass production, using a new kind of hybrid molding technology. The innovative PAEK composites bridge the gap between composite materials and injection molding and enable the production of complex composite components that were previously impossible to manufacture.

The unidirectional tapes (UDT) and laminate panels are reported to offer clear benefits in speed of component manufacture and installation. According to their manufacturer, the Victrex AE250 composites open up a whole new dimension for the aerospace industry.

“We believe that our materials and technology solutions will continue to tilt market share in favor of composites in the aircraft construction industry. They help to reduce costs, achieve weight savings, offer more design freedom and provide durability and fast production times,” explained Tim Herr, aerospace director at Victrex, in the release.

Composites made from Victrex high-performance thermoplastics are reportedly up to 60 percent lighter than AISI 4130 steel, a tough chromium-nickel-molybdenum alloy widely used in aviation applications. They are also said to achieve significant weight advantages over lightweight metals, including TA6V titanium, 7075-T6 aluminum, or ZK60A-T5 magnesium. The high performance composites are not only lighter than these metals, they also outperform them, the company says. For example, the specific strength of the composites is reported to be five times that of AISI 4130 steel.

Specifically designed for the aerospace industry, Victrex AE250 composites enable the production of continuously-reinforced components that perform extremely well under load. Components manufactured in this way include brackets, clamps, clips, and housings used throughout the aircraft in primary and secondary structures, from the cabin—including seats—to the engines and fuel tank.
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