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Tooling specialist gets stuck into Airbus project

04 January 2013

French tooling specialist, Loiretech is using Araldite 8615 resin in the manufacture of prototype lower front panels for Airbus' new A350 passenger airline, which is expected to go into service with launch customer, Qatar Airways in approximately two years time.

Originally founded in 1988 under the name Loire Modelage, Loiretech designs and manufactures tooling for large, complex thermoplastic and composite parts, serving customers primarily in the aerospace, automotive, defence and rail industries. One of the company’s specialities is resin infusion.

On the Airbus project, Loiretech was subcontracted by airframe manufacturer and Airbus partner, Aerolia, to design and produce moulds for the European aerospace giant, working to a demanding schedule. 

The new Airbus 350 is the latest in a family of long range, wide-bodied jet airliners developed by the European aircraft manufacturer. Capable of carrying between 250 and 350 passengers, depending on the specification, it is the first aircraft of its kind which has wings and fuselage made primarily of carbon reinforced polymer.

Loiretech chose Araldite 8615 for this particular application primarily for its very low viscosity, which delivers optimum impregnation of the carbon fibres during the infusion process.  It also offers a long pot life that facilitates the very large tooling capability required in aircraft manufacturing; parts typically up to 20m in length are not uncommon. The Araldite system was supplied by DiL France, a Huntsman Advanced Materials’ area distributor.

Working with products and technical support supplied by Huntsman Advanced Materials, the team from Loiretech completed the project in just 16 weeks. Loiretech president, Marc Moret, takes up the story:

“With a customer such as Airbus and an application of this kind, there can be no compromise in the quality of the manufacturing process. The mould was created using resin infusion on a CNC milled master model. Araldite 8615’s high Tg is an important parameter for such moulds. With its ability to withstand 300 curing cycles at temperatures up to 180oC, it fulfils critical performance criteria and we have already used this type of system to make large composite moulds for the aerospace industry in serial production.”

In August 2012 Airbus successfully powered up the flight deck of the A350 for the first time. The A350 XWB (extra wide body) will feature large carbon reinforced polymer panels for the fuselage skin and composite fuselage frames for the aircraft structure.

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