AGC AeroComposites, a supplier of composite aerostructures, assemblies and components for aerospace and defense, has successfully completed a project focused on developing a low cost thermoplastic composite welding process.

The ‘CoFusion’ project was funded by the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP), in partnership with the UK National Composites Centre, TenCate Advanced Composites and Rolls Royce. According to the company, it demonstrated that carbon/polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) composite thermoformed components can be reliably welded to form complex assemblies using resistive composite welding elements that contain no metal meshes or inserts. The resulting welded components reportedly feature consistent high strength and fatigue properties that have been demonstrated at both coupon and component levels. Low cost equipment and materials can be used and the heating to welding temperature takes only three minutes. The process is not limited to flat components, since panels with significant curvature can be welded reliably. All resulting welds are high quality with no voids passing standard ultrasonic Non-destructive Testing (NDT) specifications. AGC claims.

During the project, the company was able to produce welded top-hat sandwich panels which could be structurally compared by torsional strength and fatigue testing to identical riveted parts. In tests, the welded component had higher stiffness and greater strength reaching five times that of the riveted component, while the fatigue performance of the welded component was also superior with no damage at 350,000 cycles in comparison to the riveted parts that only survived 50,000 cycles. 

This story uses material from AGCwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.