IMAC PRO - Industrialized Manufacturing of CFRP Profiles
Profiles are one of the most important structural components in aerospace as well as in many applications in ground transport, marine and mechanical engineering. Together with the skin, they form lightweight structures with high stiffness and strength and additional functionality (for example aerodynamic shape). Various other profiles are used to build the inner structure of an aircraft fuselage. PAX floor cross beams and longitudinal beams, partly with integrated seat rails and the struts, used to support the floor grid, can be mentioned as representatives of profiles which are necessary in a very high quantity.
- Optimized design and cost effective manufacturing of profiles
- Due to the rapidly growing aircraft market and the demand for lightweight designs to improve the ecological compatibility of planes and helicopters
- Reduction of aircraftproduction and development costs
Pilot manufacturing plants where established and several realistic components where manufactured and tested under realistic conditions.
The components of a so called cargo floor unit represented most of the major challenges for profile production which should be addressed in IMac-Pro:
- Curved profiles
- Variable profile cross sections
- Local reinforcements
- High variability to realise different profile types
The manufacturing route was defined as out of autoclave RTM processes and microwave curing other than the at the time omnipresent usage of prepregs.
A new approach for high volume, affordable profile manufacturing was developed, starting with the stiffener design (intensive structural mechanical investigations regarding geometry, local cross-section, laminate stacking based on the loads and the required geometries). The various manufacturing principles based on textile preforming in combination with adapted injection, consolidation and curing technologies such as pultrusion, RTM, or vacuum assisted processes where taken into account.
Results at the end of the project
Profiles with at least the same structural performance as prepreg based parts could be realized. Some applications, for example curved frame profiles even reach a higher performance due to the optimisation of the fibre orientation. 20% weight reduction compared to aluminium structures at 25% lower overall costs.