New research by Greene, Tweed, a Pennsylvania-based aerospace supplier, and Aerolia, a French aerostructures Tier 1 supplier, has successfully advanced the use of thermoplastic composite materials for aerospace structural metal replacement in complex-shape applications that was previously not suited for composites. Many composite-intensive aircrafts still use machined metallic components because of an absence of cost-effective complex-shape composites solutions. This new research could lead to even more composites parts on aircrafts.

The project included material characterization of Xycomp® DLF®, a Greene, Tweed discontinuous long fiber thermoplastic material, and part sizing and testing by Aerolia under various conditions to achieve desired Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) for production applications.

Xycomp DLF provides complex-shaped composite parts with part count and weight reduction advantages over simple loaded metal parts. Using Xycomp DLF has “green” benefits; Xycomp DLF helps reduce aircraft weight, which reduces fuel use and associated emissions. Additionally, the thermoplastic matrix used for Xycomp DLF material allows for recycling and remolding use for other aerospace parts.

The project’s success has inspired additional studies to determine the best production applications for major aircraft platforms.