Some years ago, we were approached by a customer to help them win some new business. The customer’s customer, wanted to be included in the designs for the, then new, Boeing 787.
The customer’s current product offering was mounted in a cast iron frame. As everyone knows, the new 787 is primarily composites in nature. As a result, the frame for their assembly had to be redesigned, meeting the same structural, environmental and avionics requirements and shaving over 50% of its existing weight.
PlastiCert helped them design such a part, utilizing an acceptable grade of Ultem TM for their requirements. The Ultem TM being 20% glass filled, met their strength, stiffness, and dimensional stability requirements yet still resists stress cracking when exposed to common aircraft fluids. ULTEM has Inherent flame resistance , is exceptionally difficult to ignite, meeting UL94 V0 specifications. Ultem generates extremely low smoke per the NBS smoke evolution test, with products of combustion no more toxic than those of wood.
Being a mounting frame, it had to have the ability to fasten to the fuselage, as well as accommodate the multiple electronic assemblies the product features. Once the design was complete, the part required over a pound and a half of composite resin and 44 threaded and straight shaft inserts to be integrated into the molded part.
We designed and built the mold for this part here at PlastiCert. Its mold base is around 2’x 3’ and weighs upward of 2,400 pounds.
Shortly after the sampling and approval, we met with our resin supplier and showing him the part, we were told it was the geometry and number of inserts made it the most complex part he had ever seen made from the Ultem resin.
As you might guess, the quantities required for that application make it a very low volume part. We still receive orders to this day, typically in quantities of 50 – 100.
To date we are this customer’s preferred supplier for Ultem applications.
A prior commitment prohibits us from providing you pictures of this part. They considered it a very proprietary advantage in their marketplace and hoped to build on the advantage it gave them.
Have a complex part design and contemplating a composite thermoplastic? Give us a call, we have a good deal of experience and will document more as National Composites Week goes on.