GKN Aerospace has celebrated a milestone in the ‘Wing of Tomorrow’ programme after designing, manufacturing and delivering a 4-metre mid-scale demonstrator tool to the GKN Aerospace Filton facility.
The tool provides a fully-functioning automated low pressure Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) system for the Airbus-led programme’s composite wing spar. The company explained that this will be one of the first time that RTM technology has been used on this scale.
In developing the demonstrator, engineers used tool-making knowledge from the automotive industry. The 4-metre development testbed will deliver a rate 60 automated manufacturing solution and GKN Aerospace expects it will significantly improve the productivity of the composite manufacturing process – removing one third of the production steps involved.
“We are proud to be a partner of Airbus in the Wing of Tomorrow research programme and excited about the delivery of the mid-size demonstrator tool,” said John Pritchard, GKN Aerospace’s CEO for Aerostructures and Systems Europe and Asia. “This development confirms GKN Aerospace’s world-leading position in not just RTM technology, but also in advanced aerostructures manufacturing. Combined with the Aerospace Technology Institute, which is providing vital support for the UK’s position on the next generation of aircraft, we will be able to deliver breakthroughs in technology as well as benchmark levels of price, quality and repeatability.”
GKN Aerospace said technology will be moving from traditional pre-impregnated resin material to dry composite fibres injected with resin as part of the initial manufacturing process for the wing spar, resulting in weight savings.
GKN Aerospace is using its capability in design and manufacturing of composite Wing Spars and assembly of Fixed Trailing Edges to mature the technologies. The development work will continue into 2021.