Soaring prospects: The aerospace industry at COMPOSITES EUROPE 2017
The aerospace sector is currently consuming 35,200 tonnes of CFRP annually, about a third of global CFRP production. Forecasts predict that quantity to almost double to about 65,000 tonnes by 2022. The “Composites Market Report 2016” issued by the industry association Composites Germany shows that the mood in the industry is correspondingly buoyant. Right now, 34 per cent of surveyed companies expect growth in this application area, while just two per cent believe the market will worsen in future.Trend towards automation in aircraft construction
Industry expert Prof. Dr. Axel Herrmann seconds the notion that the use of CFRP in aircraft construction is booming. He serves as the chief technology officer of CFK Valley, the fibre reinforced composite network for the optimisation of the CFRP value chain, and as CEO of Composite Technology Center GmbH in Stade, an Airbus subsidiary. Airbus plants turn CFRP into complete fuselages, wings, vertical and horizontal stabilisers, and more. In Stade alone, some 55 tonnes of CFRP are processed each month. Production today is highly automated: “By now, automation has penetrated the entire market. Even for small and medium-sized companies, there now are many providers of automation technology for CFRP processing”, Professor Hermann explains.
Guided tour and lectures to cover aerospace
Among the companies at COMPOSITES EUROPE to address the aerospace industry’s composites-market needs will be J.H. vom Baur Sohn, Keller Lufttechnik, Ocsial and Solvay. The supporting programme, as well, is geared towards professionals whose main interest is aerospace. A one-hour themed guided tour on the first day of the trade fair will take visitors to industry-leading companies such as Airtech EUROPE, Dieffenbacher, Evonik, GUNNAR international and Grass. The number of participants is limited, so it would be advisable to register as soon as possible for the guided tour – which starts at 3:30 pm on 19 September – by visiting: www.composites-europe.com/guided-tours. In addition, current topics, trends and issues pertaining to this application area will also be discussed at the COMPOSITES Forum in Hall 6, Stand B76, on the morning of the first day of the trade fair.
2.5 million rivets in an Airbus A320
When it comes to CFRP processing, Prof. Dr. Herrmann sees a particular need for further advancements in joining technology, which by now is dominated by riveting. “It is – when you consider 2.5 million rivets in the case of an Airbus A320, for example – a real cost driver”, explains the CTO. “That’s because we need 2.5 million holes for the rivets; drilling these into CFRP, however, is a lot slower than into metal. This also drives up production costs.” Possible long-term options include the use of weldable thermoplastics and bonded CFRP structures, but the quality of those cannot yet be checked in non-destructive ways, he says. Therefore, he adds, alternatives are not on the horizon for now, because it usually takes many years until they’ve developed into reliable, officially approved and certified processes.
Despite this yet-to-be-resolved detail, Germany is the clear global leader in CFRP technology, says Hermann. “Now we should also leverage this advantage on the macroeconomic level by establishing COMPOSITES EUROPE as a trade fair whose offerings attract interested prospects and visitors from around the world. That’s one of the reasons why we support this trade fair.”
Trade fair opening event: 3rd International Composites Congress (ICC)
Kicking off COMPOSITES EUROPE 2017 on 18 and 19 September 2017 will be the “3rd International Composites Congress (ICC)” hosted by the trade association Composites Germany. Current trends, new applications and technologies, and a comprehensive overview of market developments in Europe and worldwide will be the centre of attention at the 3rd ICC. This year’s partner country, South Korea, will be represented with several exclusive speakers.