The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Composite and Hybrids Branch (AFRL/RXBC) has announced the selection of Renegade Materials FreeForm®14 Polyimide to be coordinated by the National Center for Advanced Material Performance (NCAMP) at Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research.
The program will generate a material properties database for qualification of a high-temperature polyimide composite for use in both airframe and engine applications. NCAMP will also identify fabricators with the capability and experience to process polyimide materials, who will participate in the panel fabrication activity.
NCAMP will seek the FAA's oversight in the qualification programs to create the pedigree necessary for the materials to be used in certified aerospace applications. As part of the FAA's process, panel fabricators will need to have their panel fabrication process and panels conformed by the FAA.
Both the AFRL and NCAMP believe that polyimide composite materials are a viable substitute for many aerospace parts operating at service temperatures above 375°F that currently made out of titanium and BMI composites. Polyimide composites can replace titanium and other materials in many applications up to 500°F operating temperature, while offering potential advantages such as lower cost and significantly reduced weight. The advantages of polyimide over epoxy and bismaleimide include a higher operating temperature, which reduces maintenance costs and may eliminate the need for thermal insulation or protective coatings in some applications.
Many aerospace manufacturers have expressed interest in using polyimide composites to replace titanium, CRES or inconel parts to save cost and weight; however they require a useful database of the polyimide material properties. The material property data acquisition and qualification test plan will generate basic material allowables typically needed for airframe and engine applications and material properties typically needed to establish material control. Aircraft manufacturers will be able to design simple parts with the data from NCAMP, and sub-contract the part fabrication to companies that have participated in the qualification process or have shown process equivalency.
Material Selection Process
NCAMP Industry Advisory Board members and the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) assisted the Air Force in the material selection. The ballots were received from designated representatives of member organizations including Airbus, ATK Space Systems, Bell Helicopter Textron, Boeing IDS/Phantom Works, Bristol Aerospace Ltd-Magellan Aerospace Corporation, Cessna Aircraft Company, EADS CASA/Eurocopter, Embraer, GE Aviation, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Honeywell Aerospace, Lockheed Martin Aero, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce Corporation, Sikorsky Aircraft, Spirit AeroSystems, and Toyota Aviation. The representatives were asked to discuss their votes with other individuals and composite organizations within their company, regarding the five polyimide material candidates. The questions asked in the ballot were:
• Would your company like to see this material qualified into the NCAMP shared database?
• Does your company have an immediate need for this material?
• Is your company or your sub-contractor willing to make test panels for this candidate?
|Polyamide Candidate||Points||Panel Fabrication Volunteers|
|JD Lincoln L-603||5||0|
Each "yes" answer carried one point.
The original intent of the AFRL funding was to develop test data on two polyimide candidates; however, since the Renegade Materials' FreeForm®14 is the clear aerospace industry favorite, the AFRL, with advice from NAVAIR, has decided to qualify two product forms with FreeForm-14 resin system. Initial discussions suggest that there will be a 3K 8HS carbon fabric and a 145-gsm carbon unidirectional tape prepreg form.
More about Renegade's FreeForm-14
The FreeForm-14 product family is based on Maverick Corporation's MVK-14, a safe, non-carcinogenic polyimide resin system formulated and patented in 2000 by Dr. Robert A. Gray with enhanced performance features enabled by GE Aviation FreeForm® technology. The resulting product has been designed to replace PMR-15 polyimide, specialty metals and even BMI composites in high-temperature airframe and propulsion applications for military, commercial and general aviation structures requiring 375°F to 475°F wet and 500°F to 550°F dry operating environments.
Renegade Materials Corporation will supply the FreeForm®14 prepregs manufactured at their prepreg manufacturing facility in Springboro, Ohio. Renegade Materials is a small business, founded and operated by a team of composite prepreg industry veterans each having over 25 years experience in the development, processing and qualification of high-temperature polyimide composites. Renegade Materials manufactures woven and unidirectional prepregs using carbon, Astroquartz, Nicalon and S2 glass up to 60" wide, in small or high-rate production quantity – using an ISO9001 Quality Assurance system.
Maverick Corporation and Renegade Materials are committed to making the MVK-14 FreeForm® prepregs an affordable, easy-to-process high-temperature material solution to the aerospace industry. The prepreg materials, properties test data and processing instruction package will be available with fast lead-times, no set-up charges and no minimum buy purchase.
For more information Renegade's FreeForm-14, contact Laura Glidden at 508-579-7888.
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