After almost four years, AIRPOXY has come to an end on 31 August. The project has delivered highly valuable composites to contribute to maintaining European leadership in aeronautics.
Thanks to a family of vitrimer epoxy resins for aeronautics, it has been possible to create a new generation of thermoset composites that preserve high performance while displaying unprecedented features once the composite is completely cured, such as Re-processability, Reparability and Recyclability. That is why we have named them “3R composites”.
Thermoforming, welding and repair processes, previously unthinkable for thermoset composites, have been adapted to 3R composites, allowing significant reduction in production times and costs. The application of supporting tools such as simulation, structural health monitoring and life cycle cost assessment from the early stages of the project has been paramount. All the materials and processes developed have been applied in the manufacturing within an industrial environment of two demonstrators which are representative of real aircraft components: Fan Cowl and Leading Edge subcomponents.
These achievements would not have been possible without the precious input and contribution of a strong consortium bringing together the inventors of the resin (CIDETEC Surface Engineering), key technology providers (Leibniz-Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe GmbH (IVW), expert in thermoforming and welding of thermoplastic composites, Eurecat – Technology Centre of Catalonia, expert in RTM process and LCA/LCC/HHRA analysis, Coexpair, expert in SQRTM process, University of Ioannina, expert in structural health monitoring techniques, and Altair, expert in process simulation software), manufacturers of aircraft components (ÉireComposites Teo , IDEC Ingeniería y Desarrollos en Composites S.L., Sonaca), together with standardization experts (UNE – Asociación Española de Normalización) and a collaborative research consultancy (ARTTIC ).
With the materials and processes developed up to TRL5, it is evident that further research and development will be required to bring 3R composites to market.
It has been a pleasure for CIDETEC and for me personally to coordinate this leading team. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to making this project a success! We wish you all the best in future endeavours and hope that we will have the opportunity to collaborate again.
On behalf of the AIRPOXY partners,
AIRPOXY Technical Coordinator