2020 follows on from 2019 in that innovation is still seen as the key to drive fuel burn efficiencies while bringing disruptive concepts to fruition in the name of “enhanced user experience”.

There is still an industry conundrum – how to save on cost and drive revenue while delivering the crown jewel of leading-edge customer experience. This calls for designers and carriers to “challenge obsolete thinking” and move toward “disruptive innovation”, all of which, as an innovative engineering company, we relish – but we ask the question;
Are you up to speed with how composites make all of this possible?

As enablers of the aerospace supply chain with composite materials, we constantly face concerns and pre-conceptions around this set of materials and technology. However, we have proven most of these to be misguided – so here is a quick review of why you should reconsider composites in your innovation research at the expo.

Today’s composites are proven to:

  • Save space and weight
  • Comply with safety and testing regulations
  • Maintain profitability

We know this as we have proven the case in our extensive application of composites within the transportation industry, most recently in aerospace seatbacks, footrests and lockers. Here we have robust, compliant yet highly innovative products and materials ready for or already in fast-paced volume production.

How composites help to save space and weight:
Carbon fibre composites typically have a 50% weight saving over aluminium and 80% over steel. Switching to composites can help save weight in your all up seat PAX weight. Seatbacks typically make up 40-50% of your PAX weight.

Composites can be tapered and made into organic innovative shapes that might not be available using consistent metallic profiles. Making thinner seatbacks and sculpted shapes unlocks space for the passenger behind.

Modern composites are compliant, tested and proven:
The word composite is often misunderstood, it means made of more than 1 material. In this case, fibre reinforced resin or FRP (fibre reinforced plastic). Another common misconception, it doesn’t always have to mean carbon. Cecence advocate RFRA – Right Fibre Right Application. Often it is carbon for its amazing strength to weight ratio, but we also regularly utilise the compliant and flexible (energy absorbing) nature of glass fibre.
Composite materials start as fibre tow, then woven or made into cloth before being draped into flowing shapes in moulds before the resin sets around it to make an extremely strong solid structure. There is no limit to the variety of shapes – let your imagination go.

The most common misconception with composites is that they are

  • Flimsy
  • Non-durable
  • Hazardous
  • Flammable
  • Un-ecological

With our extensive development work, Cecence can show you that we have addressed all these perceived barrier;
Cecence have taken part in extensive static testing programs that have validated designs prior to going to external crash testing. We can also show you our work in extensive life cycle testing and pioneering use of analysis techniques such as Acoustic Emissions and Ultrasound testing to validate the fatigue strength and expected life of our composites.
Seat backs used to have a metal inner frame – a skeleton – Cecence showed it was possible to have an all-composite seat back that passed FST and could also pass 16g crash testing.

Phenolic resin has traditionally been the go-to resin systems because of its amazing flame and smoke performance, but it was hazardous and unpleasant to work with and had under-lying health risks. Cecence has addressed this and have developed the 1st REACH compliant ZERO % formaldehyde phenolic pre-preg. At the same time we have incorporated new catalysts that cure the system in a fraction of the time it used to take.

Cecence has carried out extensive flam testing (Fire, Smoke & Toxicity – FST). We have gone further than simply plain coupon testing and our panels have been tested for various paint finishes and with allowances for secondary bonding adhesives. We can make seat backs in a fraction of the time that they would historically be made in. By getting rid of the plastic shrouds that adorn the back of most seats, we can take back the space for customers and offset the cost of the composite fibres.

Having our seatbacks pass Airbus line-fit approval, categorically put these fears to rest. Our innovative all-composite carbon phenolic materials have produced a seat back that is:

  • 16g HIC tested
  • FST compliant

Cecence may have re-validated Phenolic resin for the aircraft industry, but we recognise we need to offer an extensive Portfolio of materials that pass mass transportation FST regulations.

We have;

  • Snap Cure Phenolics (0% Formaldehyde rated) – both cloth and SMC.
  • FST compliant thermoplastic systems that can be glued and painted without fear.
  • New emerging FST Epoxies
  • New “Green” Resins such as ecologically sustainable Bio-Resin (PFA).

It is important to consider what regulations affect your industry as to which angle you need to prove to be ecological – is it in the sourcing of materials or in the after-life of the product?
Today’s manufacturers have the choice to use eco materials such as flax and bio-resins dependent on each individual customer and can also choose to look at product life-cycle by using our thermoplastics that can re-moulded and re-purposed through their life-time.

We have woven cloths and also “chipped” thermoplastics that pass aero-interior testing. These materials have proven that they can be processed in less than half the time again than our seat backs – our Sub 3 minute processing is already proven.

How composites can be cost effective and maintain profitability
Historically, composites have been seen as materials to solve very niche problems, replicable only by highly skilled artisans. This reputation of it being a “dark art” is really no longer applicable.

Our approach to the manufacturing of components with our rapid processing and pressing methods enables volume production without the requirement of teams of skilled labour.

In addition, as other parts within a structure such as metal, cushioning or additional rivets become redundant, the total cost of production lowers. With this approach, it is absolutely possible to produce an all composite lightweight product that challenges the same margins as your existing parts, while delivering a more innovative and lightweight alternative.
So – with these myths now busted, composites have a very plausible space amongst the solutions you should be investigating during your interiors expo.

If you are considering;

  • What composite materials are available for supply
  • How to apply composites in your innovation
  • How to access composite engineering know-how

Give us a call and we can discuss:

  • Our proven products
  • Brainstorm composite applications with our onsite experts

We are passionate about making true innovation tangible – supporting the whole aerospace interiors supply chain with composite materials, transferable engineering know-how or volume production manufacturing capabilities