NHYTE The use of composite materials in transportation sector has progressively increased over the last decades bringing a breakthrough point in the way aircrafts are designed and built. This is partly due to their excellent material properties of high stiffness and strength at low density, that make it possible to have lighter aircrafts and therefore enable a reduction in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. In addition, thermoplastic composites can give significant cost reductions if the potential advantages in processing will be exploited through the development of automated fabrication and assembly processes. With the aim to take the use of composite materials to the next level, the EU-funded NHYTE project has developed new efficient concepts and methodologies to enable the realization of innovative and green integrated aero-structures produced by a novel recyclable hybrid thermoplastic composite material with multifunctional capabilities. This new hybrid material is fabricated by an innovative machine developed in the frame of the project, which implements continuous automated production processes. Typical aero-structure (part of wing and fuselage) are produced by robotic machine as Laser Automated Fibre Placement (LAFP), stringers are fabricated by continuous forming and assembly can be carried out by induction welding technology. The innovative material returns functions of toughness improvement (multilayer material) and process simplification, since it does not require autoclave consolidation and thus, achieves optimisation of the energy consumption (improved cycle times and lower energy consumptions). Furthermore, a reduction of full life cycle cost is expected from recycling of scrape materials and end of life structures. NHYTE team of researchers designed and installed a unique facility in Europe, an automated pilot plant for the fabrication of the new thermoplastic composite material enabling the production of aerostructures by In-Situ Consolidation automated fiber placement technology. Continuous press has been used also for the production of stringers. At the end of the project a demonstrator representative of fuselage portion has been produced and a pre-industrial continuous automated process is ready for manufacturing recyclable structures.
Project website: http://www.nhyte-h2020.eu/