BWT has led the Aerospace ducting market with Thermoplastic Composites for over 40 years. What makes BWT’s latest composite technology unique is that we produce dry fibre composites with near net shape preforms which incorporate both matrix (resin) and reinforcement in a single piece construction. These are ready for thermoforming, require minimal post-processing and, more importantly, they are perfectly tailored to the design requirements.
BWT’s Commitment to Continuous Improvement
The Preform Composites have massive potential in a variety of market sectors, but it is our expertise in the aerospace industry that makes BWT a market leader. BWT has set in place a variety of unique processes which we continue to improve and enhance. Our company already boasts a well-developed process (RT2i™) for dry fibre composite manufacture using thermoplastic matrices.
The next stage in our development is to look into processing technologies to bring further efficiencies and reduce cycle times for these materials. BWT’s team of engineers are also working to develop the preforming process to accommodate carbon reinforcements, while resin transfer moulding is another area of investigation alongside the 3D near net shape preforms.
BWT has 40 years of experience in Thermoplastic Composites and in the last ten years our company has seen the focus shift from system to materials and product development. BWT has stayed at the forefront of all developments, especially with the adoption of the Preform Composite technology, with which BWT has significantly moved forward with the development of the ducting product, due to enter service in 2021.
BWT’s 3D Preform Composites have been developed further over the last few years and dry fibre composite developments are now focusing on taking the technology to more structural applications.
More Accuracy with BWT’s Engineering Team
BWT’s Preformed Composites R&D engineering team boasts over 45 years of experience in the composites sector, while our engineers come from diverse manufacturing backgrounds which benefit our range of products today: from product and system experience to process and materials engineering. Development takes place from a practical perspective, with a key focus on working with physical products, materials and processes. Analysis is then applied to physical data and findings are used to validate and hone developments.
BWT’s Facilities for Preformed Composites
BWT prides itself in its dedicated development facilities (Composite Development Centre) focussed on composite development, with capabilities and equipment that include:
- 5 cu.m oven with pressure and vacuum
- Composite knitting machines
- Composite trimming/machining
- Mechanical handling capabilities for overweight tooling
- Pressure and leakage testing
- Tool design
- CFD and FEA analysis
BWT’s Preform Composites can reduce cost in particular through the reduction of touch times. The near net shape allows the composite to be “draped” quickly and accurately with no joins, overlaps, and little to no cuts or trimming. Providing tooling and other NRE exist, the recurring cost of a single component can remain comparatively low.
Lead Time Advantages
The Preform Composite technology can switch between geometries and structures seamlessly, without change in setup. For example, BWT can produce a small complex preform directly after a large simple preform without pause and with no manual intervention. Therefore, at BWT we can confidently claim that preforms can be made to order without time consuming setup processes.
Changes in materials are also rapid. BWT’s state-of-the-art machinery can tolerate a complete material change in minutes – whereas a traditional “loom” can take days.
Weight Reduction Advantages
BWT’s capabilities in Preformed Composites can offer significantly reduced weight through the careful tailoring of the composite to the geometry and performance requirements. Reinforcement can be kept localised without the need for material overlaps and additional adhesives.
Materials can also be changed mid-ply without overlaps or joins. The composite structure remains uniform even as the material changes, for example between glass and aramid reinforcements.
Features can be incorporated into the composite structure, reducing the need to use adhesives to bond sections or subassemblies together, which also reduces the potential final weight.
BWT’s Preformed Composites Qualifications
Preform Composites have been tested to the requirements of RTCA/DO-160.
BWT is AS9100 Rev D approved and operates a widely approved and intensely audited Quality Management system. Development work is carried out within this framework and all products go through rigorous testing and approvals before entering production and subsequently service.
BWT’s materials, products and systems are subject to several levels of testing and validation:
- Development Testing
- Process Variables Testing
- Characterisation Testing
- Reliability Testing
- Qualification Testing
- Quality Assurance Testing