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Development of an integral wing box for aircraft rewarded with Austrian invention prize

FACC AG has earned another important award with its pioneering invention. The Upper Austrian composites specialist was announced yesterday as the winner of the Bronze Inventum Award by the Austrian Patent Office in Vienna. The prize rewards the development of an integral wing box for aircraft using the new "MARI" infusion manufacturing process that makes a significant contribution to cost, time and energy savings in the production of fiber-composite components. A jury of experts lined up the FACC innovation among the top 3 patents of the year.

"We are very proud of this terrific award. It is another important acknowledgment of our innovative strength and our pioneering technological role in lightweight composite construction," said Robert Machtlinger, COO of FACC AG, at the award presentation. "However, the prize also rewards the determination, commitment, and investigative spirit of our employees." Apart from the Inventum Award, the FACC invention has already been acknowledged with the Upper Austrian State Innovation Prize and a nomination for the National Innovation Award.

The Austrian invention prize, awarded annually by the Patent Office, once again attracted active participation from companies, universities, research facilities and innovators. The consistently high number of invention registrations bears impressive testimony to the level of home-grown innovation activity. The Austrian Patent Office rewards this unbroken inventiveness with the Inventum Award. The prize for "Invention of the Year" is intended to give a curtain call to those people whose ideas allow new paths to be taken in technical research and development. First place at the Inventum presentation went to Kielsteg GmbH. Second place was taken by Dr. Klaus Pastl.

MARI infusion process sets new standards

Developed and patented by FACC, the Membrane Assisted Resin Infusion (MARI) process constitutes a significant step forward in fiber composite technology and raises the bar for the integral design of monolithic structures. Thanks to this process, it has now become possible to manufacture lighter components of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) more cost-efficiently. This makes FACC the first-ever manufacturer worldwide to have succeeded in producing the components of a wing box in a one-shot process and without using an autoclave.

Costly and complex: the previous method

In the prior art method, for the production of carbon fiber wing boxes prepregs (fibers preimpregnated with resin) are placed on a mold and cured in the autoclave under heat and pressure. Then, the separately cured reinforcement sections, which also consist of CFRP, are connected to the wing shell by mechanical means such as rivets, screws, etc. – a complex, time-consuming and costly joining method.

Efficient: the MARI process

In FACC's innovative method, the wing shell is assembled completely from dry fiber preforms including the entire reinforcement structure. It is positioned in a mold and introduced into a heating cabinet. Once the entire fiber mat has been heated, the resin, which has been preheated as well, is “sucked” through the component under vacuum. For this method, no mechanical connecting elements such as screws or rivets are needed, leading to a substantial weight reduction of the parts.

Universally applicable

The concept of the wing box can be scaled to all dimensions and be applied to all aircraft sizes and types. The new process not only helps save weight, it also brings down manufacturing costs. Using the heating cabinet instead of the autoclave to cure the components and not needing any cooling for the storage of the prepregs considerably reduces the energy consumption.

The process innovation is currently being tested successfully by FACC in practice. "Within the scope of research projects, various infusion components have already been infiltrated by means of the new MARI infusion process. The results are very promising, as demonstrated by unproblematic, complete, and high-quality infiltration of the fiber structure," said Hermann Filsegger, Head of Engineering at FACC, highlighting the benefits of the invention.

Press release issued by FACC AG on November 19, 2014


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FACC AG Engine Parts, Lavatory Equipment, Fairings, Aircraft Doors, Engine Nozzles, Thrust Reversers, Aircraft Structural Components, Testing Services, Aircraft Interiors, Aircraft Interior Bulkheads, Aircraft Flooring, Passenger Service Units (PSUs), Storage Bins, Window Panels, Wing Spoilers, Wings, Winglets, Bleed Air Systems, Wing Flaps, Fire & Smoke Detectors


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