Stories: A new take on aircraft interiors could make production cheaper and cleaner
To meet the strict fire and weight requirements for aircraft interiors, the current solution is to use a fire-resistant composite made of phenolic resin with glass fibre reinforcement. But phenolic parts have many drawbacks. One EU project has found a greener, cheaper alternative. The IntAir project funded by the European Innovation Council pilot's Fast Track to Innovation strand, wants to refine the materials and upscale the manufacturing process for a new generation of aircraft interior composites that are cheaper, lighter and safer than the toxic materials that are currently used.
The project was focussed on a particular type of composite material - preimpregnated carbon or glass fibre fabrics, or ‘prepregs’. Prepregs are high-performance composites in which a textile is impregnated with a thermosetting resin, which is then partially cured. The result is a material that is very easy to handle and cut, and which offers a high fibre-to-polymer ratio (and therefore a high performance). To produce a finished part, the prepreg is normally laid-up in a mould and consolidated using heat and pressure to fully cure the polymer.
The project, that finished in October 2018 received 1.8 million from the Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) to develop its new solution, with partners from Germany, the UK and Italy.
The Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) is a central part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot, targeting radically new, breakthrough products, services, processes or business models that open up new markets. It promotes close-to-the-market innovation activities and is open to all types of participants. FTI aims to reduce the time from idea to market and to partner industry, SMEs and first-time industry applicants in common projects.