Injection-molding fusible-core tech improves jet-fighter fuel housing production
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 as opposed to existing metal designs.
The efficient production, including part consolidation, is the result of Egmond Plastic, a leading injection-molding specialist, combining their own fusible-core technology (which allows for undercuts in injection molding) with a high-performance PEEK polymer solution provided by Victrex. Carbon fiber-reinforced grades of VICTREX PEEK polymer eliminate the use of a separate bearing, for example, since this is now integrated into the overall design of the housing.
Aerospace fuel housing made from VICTREX PEEK polymer achieves a 50 percent weight savings.
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," says Richard Brandwijk, managing director at Egmond Plastic. "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 savings versus machined parts. Secondary treatments for corrosion protection, such as anodizing, can be eliminated. Lead times can be reduced by 50 percent. These factors collectively result in part cost savings of more than 30 percent versus metal equivalents.
"The global aerospace industry stands to gain enormously by persistently replacing metals in key applications," says Uwe Marburger, aerospace business development manager at Victrex. "Clearly, our PEEK knowledge and material solutions help enable the use of a technology that addresses some of the toughest challenges in complex aerospace part design and productions."
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 up to 2,000 parts.
Egmond's unique 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.
For further information about fusible-core injection-molding technology, visit Egmond Plastic at www.egmondplastic.nl. For information about VICTREX carbon fiber reinforced PEEK, please visit www.victrex.com.
Published April 2015
* Skydrol is a registered trademark of Eastman Chemical Co.
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