NCC and Teledyne CML Composites develop high-performing thermoplastic processing cell to speed up aerospace composites manufacturing

12 May 2021

Advanced composites manufacturer Teledyne CML Composites has developed a new thermoplastic processing cell capable of processing multiple high-performance reinforced thermoplastics for aerospace components, with support from the National Composites Centre (NCC).

The cell utilises two press and oven systems offering infrared heating, platen heating, and a maximum force of 400 tonnes. It provides a significant capacity increase at Teledyne CML Composites to support the continued growth of the commercial and defence aerospace composites manufacturer.

“Having identified Thermoplastics as a key technology in our long term growth ambitions, this investment adds an exciting new automated manufacturing capability to our business and places Teledyne CML Composites at the forefront of composites manufacturing technology,” said John Toner, Vice President & General Manager, Teledyne Aerospace and Defence Electronics UK (TADE UK) and General Manager of Teledyne CML Composites.

Not just limited to thermoplastic composites, the new processing cell allows Teledyne CML Composites the ability to produce compression moulded thermoset parts. This new capability also enables the “Out of Autoclave” production of foam and honeycomb sandwich panels such as those used in aircraft interiors.

The NCC, one of the seven centres of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported Teledyne CML Composites by engaging with the UK supply chain to specify the presses and assisted on-site acceptance and commissioning trials. NCC engineers also supported with producing initial prototypes and the manufacture of first articles for a key UK defence contract, trained the Teledyne CML Composites engineering and technician teams in thermoplastic processing technology, and advised on best practice for tool storage and handling.

Sean Cooper, Chief Engineer for Defence and Space at the NCC, said: “The NCC is very pleased to have worked with Teledyne CML Composites on setting up this new capability, which is a real step change in the manufacture of aerospace thermoplastic composites in the UK. With manufacturing cycle times measured in minutes rather than hours, thermoplastic composites have great potential for higher rate processing in aerospace applications. They have the ability to be welded together for rapid assembly and are considered more sustainable than thermosets due to increased recovery options at the end of product lifetime.”


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