The manufacturing of plastic mouldings and assemblies is today dominated by low labour regions. This has led to a fall in the European SME market share for moulded components during the last 10 years. European SMEs within this segment need to develop more innovative products and manufacturing processes to be competitive in the market. One of the industries using increasing volumes of plastic and composite parts is the aircraft industry.
We propose to develop a novel manufacturing technology using the benefits of carbon fibre as reinforcement and a high performance thermoplastic as the matrix material utilising the high processing speed of injection moulding. The output of this project will be a new technology for making thermoplastic mouldings reinforced with inserted carbon fibre preforms. This will enable the aircraft industry to enhance functionality and reduce environmental impact through weight saving (replacing denser metal parts) leading to lower fuel consumption. The potential to use thermoplastic components that are easily recyclable provides an additional incentive.
The use of injection moulding as a relatively rapid production process will provide up to 30% cost reduction. The project offers European SMEs an opportunity to develop high value manufacturing capabilities that can compete with low labour cost economies.
We have identified the civil aircraft industry as the primary market for the new technology. We also expect to be able to produce lightweight advanced structural parts for the gas and oil, transport and automotive sectors. We estimate the market opportunity, by penetrating the primary market for the first five years after the project, is equal to €147M of revenue from sales and licensing of the technology. The initial market strategy will be to concentrate on the EC market, where the consortium has a strong market presence and a clear route to market through the partnership with Airbus.
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Call for proposal
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