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Aerospace components deliver PEEK performance

04 October 2011

Mandatory requirements for aerospace polymers include light weight, excellent mechanical strength, dimensional stability and the ability to meet high standards for flame, smoke, and toxicity emissions. High performance polyaryletherketone (PEEK) polymers meet these and other requirements, especially in metal replacement opportunities across multiple aircraft platforms.

High-performance PEEK polymers are being specified for a variety of aerospace applications, not only for their low weight and high strength, but because they combine these favourable product characteristics with a processing flexibility that delivers increased efficiency and parts consolidation - and thus lower costs.

In addition to their excellent high temperature and flammability properties, PEEK polymers also meet another key requirement for aerospace polymers, namely the ability to maintain their properties following long-term immersion in jet fuels and hydraulic fluids.

Victrex PEEK polymer offers exceptional resistance to a wide range of acids, bases, and hydrocarbons, which means that components manufactured from this material generally offer long life in often very arduous service.

For example, tests have demonstrated that soaking Victrex PEEK compounds in Skydrol hydraulic fluid at 70oC for 1,000 hours caused less than a 10% change in nominal properties. These favourable results are further supported by 20 years of proven performance in both commercial and military aircraft where Victrex PEEK polymer has been specified for both hydraulic and fuel system components.

Amphenol cable and hose clamps
A division of connector manufacturer, Amphenol has conducted tests to prove that its glass-filled Victrex PEEK polymer injection moulded P-clamps were not adversely affected after being submerged in aviation Jet A fuel for twelve months at room temperature. Amphenol senior design engineer, Jocelyn Belanger, takes up the story:

“The results showed that there were no visual signs of softening, swelling, or loss of adhesion in the over-moulded fluorosilicone cushion in any of the submerged samples removed from the jet fuel. Each sample exposed to the jet fuel passed both cushion adhesion and cushion retention testing.”

Indeed, the ultimate strength of each P-clamp sample after jet fuel submersion was greater than the design ultimate load of 556N, with the average ultimate load being 28% higher than the design load. Jocelyn Belanger again:

“The ability of the Victrex PEEK polymer to retain its properties after exposure to jet fuel confirmed that it has the strength and chemical resistance to perform in the fuel tank environment where the P-clamps are used to retain wire harnesses and fuel and hydraulic hoses.”

Because of their high-performance properties, including their outstanding chemical resistance and low specific gravity, Victrex PEEK polymers are increasing being used to replace metals, traditional thermoset composites and other plastics in a growing number of aerospace applications. They also provide the necessary design flexibility for the development of components and assemblies destined for the next generation of commercial and military aircraft, and advanced spacecraft.

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