ECO-CLIP makes progress in thermoplastic system brackets injection process for aircrafts

Blog ECO-CLIP consortium has been manufacturing system brackets for the MFFD CleanSky2 demostrator.

Demonstrating the technical, environmental, and economic feasibility of manufacturing high value-added aircraft structural parts is the main objective of the ECO-CLIP project. To achieve this goal, ECO-CLIP focuses its research on the replacement of classical clip and bracket manufacturing processes with cost-effective and easy-to-implement processes that enable near-net-shape manufacturing, such as injection moulding and 3D printing.

After months of research, the ECO-CLIP project continues to achieve technical milestones. Recently, Aitiip technology center, member of the ECO-CLIP’s consortium, has made progress in the injection process, after concluding the previous stage of redesigning the parts (frame clips and system brackets) to adapt them to this injection. It should be remembered that the objective of ECO-CLIP is to replace those aeronautic parts, now made of metal, with thermoplastic material.

In recent months, Aitiip has focused its efforts on the manufacture of modular molds. Thanks to these molds, it is possible to reduce the necessary investment to produce different demonstrators in injection molding, as it is possible to manufacture different pieces with only a small structural modification of the mold.

Once the design of the part and the mold had been fulfilled, Aitiip team began the injection phase. In this process, Aitiip has worked with the material developed by ECO-CLIP coordinator, AIMEN Technology Center, based on 40% CF / recycled PAEK, obtained from industrial waste and factory scraps from other processes. The manufactured parts are currently under evaluation by GKN FOKKER and will be applied in the STUNNING Multi-Functional Fuselage Demonstrator.

In the other side, AIMEN has also manufactured one of the bracket geometries to validate the emerging FGF (Fused Granulated Fabrication) additive manufacturing technology. This manufacturing system provides a fast and cost-effective solution for small production runs or prototypes.

The fused granulated fabrication technique has been able the use the same material as the one involved in injection molding. In contraposition to the typically used FFF, which implies the development of high carbon fiber load filament that usually represents a huge problem, this technique used pellet extrusion to create layer-by-layer geometries, avoiding the decrease of carbon fiber for 3D printing and continuing with high recycled material ratio.

For this aim, a destock printer has been modified within the project framework to fulfill the necessities of this kind of high-performance materials process by direct extrusion fabrication.

In addition, ECO-CLIP is developing at AIMEN facilities an ultrasonic welding procedure for the newly developed material to join the clips to the aircraft structure, thus avoiding the need for mechanical joints, and allowing the reduction of both, costs, and environmental impact.