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H2020

FORMIT Report Summary

Project ID: 738044
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.4.5.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FORMIT (Forming and Modular Integration of Thermoplastics)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2017-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The main objective of the FORMIT project is to develop a modular tooling to integrate a wing upper skin and an external wing leading edge with several T-Shape and stringers. Skins will be laminated on the integration tool by the Topic Manager with Automated Fiber Placement technology and stringer will be produced with an innovative continuous forming process patented by Applus+ Laboratories. Both structures will be made of carbon fiber embedded in PEEK thermoplastic matrix. The conjunction of these two manufacturing technologies and thermoplastic composite enables an out-of-autoclave production process and curing final structure with low cost and high production rates. This project is a step forward in the development of thermoplastic aero-structures to fulfil the requirements derived from manufacture aeronautical components for Clean Sky 2 “on-ground” and “in-flight” demonstrators of a Regional Aircraft FTB2.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The scope of the work done during the period of time object of this periodic report, is related to the issues listed here below:
• Preliminary preparations to Glide Forming development
• Glide Forming preliminary manufacturing trials
• Conceptual design of continuous forming equipment for stringers
• Conceptual design specification of full integration mould for upper skin and leading edge
• Manufacturing trials for the forming process parameters optimization.
Works started with some preliminary preparations, consisted of the research and acquisition of auxiliary materials for high temperature processes, definition of the heating system, study of materials for the preparation of non-heated forming tools, hand lay-up of panels and adaptation of a forming demonstrator in order to be able to launch the preliminary manufacturing trials.
Since thermoplastic pre-impregnated (prepreg) materials must be processed at temperatures over 385°C a research has been necessary for raw materials to be able to work at these temperatures, as previous experience was limited to 180°C (process temperature for dry reinforcements). New raw materials required to be used for the manufacturing of forming tools, heat blankets, flexible bladders, etc., as well as auxiliary materials for vacuum bag preparations.
Glide Forming preliminary manufacturing trials were conducted in order to obtain information about the capabilities of the Applus+ Glide Forming process applied to thermoplastic prepreg materials, since previous experience was limited to the forming of thermoset prepreg stringers.
The performance of first manufacturing trials had the objective to acquire the enough knowledge about the thermoplastic prepreg and auxiliary materials used in the forming process. They allowed to observe that the forming process was able to heat the material up to the required temperature and form the charge (flat lay-up, stack) copying the shape of the forming tool.
In parallel to the preliminary trials for the Glide Forming process, the conceptual design of the equipment required for the manufacturing of the project deliverables was defined. This task covered the conceptual definition of the required updates to adapt the semi-automatic Applus+ Glide Forming demonstrator to the new forming process parameters required by thermoplastic prepreg; also the conceptual design of the full integration mould for the upper skin.
Some prospections have been made, as well, in order to find a technical solution that allows the welding of the L-shaped stringers to obtain the T-shaped stringers required as a deliverable of the project for the upper wing demonstrator. This work has involved the research of possible suppliers of induction welding technology and subsequent contacts with them to evaluate their capabilities.
With the performance of these works several forming process variants were prospected while looking for a basic configuration allowing the consolidation of the material after forming: although with wrinkles and without good dimensional quality, some consolidated stringers were obtained from three different process variants, which were used as work base to keep working in the process parameters optimization: at the moment of this periodic report this activity has not been completed, so it will continue.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Work conducted from the beginning of the project to the moment of this periodic report has allowed the development of the main components used in the forming process. Some of them have been fully validated; others, in contrast, are in continuous evolution while forming trials are being conducted.

Obtaining some consolidated stringers from three different process variants has also been possible, although the resultant quality must still be improved.
Regarding the development of the integration tools, the definition of the conceptual design of the wing upper skin full integration mould has allowed SERTEC to face the main technical issues derived from large dimensions of the demonstrator.

This situation lets the consortium be optimistic about the outcome of the work still to be done and, as a consequence, to be optimistic about the potential impacts of the project, since the use of thermoplastic composites allows reducing CO2 emissions and environmental impact along the whole lifecycle of an aircraft thanks to:
- Manufacturing process with reduced energy consumption since autoclave curing is not necessary
- Lighter aerostructures and, therefore, minor fuel consumption during operation
- Material easily recyclable.
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