In an effort to create affordable and sustainable production, a new Northern Dutch consortium, is going to develop an innovative and far more sustainable method to drastically reduce the production cost of thermoplastic composites. The project, called Luxovius, is financially backed by SNN and the Groningen and Drenthe provincial governments, with a sum of €3.5 million. The project should also create 25 new jobs.
Strong as steel and as light as a feather. Thermoplastic composites are the materials of the future. Its benefits are already well known in the aviation industry, because it significantly increases the efficiency of airplanes. The biggest drawback however, is that the material is very precious, mostly because of the enormous production costs.
Luxovius will drastically change the current energy intensive and time consuming production method of thermoplastic composites. The biggest change compared to the current process, is that the autoclave is no longer necessary. Industrial autoclaves are big, metal pressure chambers, used to process materials under high pressure and temperature. Aside from an important reduction in time and cost and substantial energy savings, the resulting CO2 reduction is also of vital importance.
Thanks to this new process and the reduction in cost, smaller and more complex shapes of the superior material will also be possible, making it economically viable for use in other markets. With the development of a so-called digital twin, a virtual representation of the production process, there are more benefits, such as optimization and prediction of maintenance and quality. It’s no surprise that companies like Boeing and Airbus are also keeping a close eye on this project.
Northern Dutch consortium
The companies Boikon from Leek, GKN Fokker from Hoogeveen, the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre, NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences and the Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM) will be teaming up to develop, demonstrate, validate and market this new production method for thermoplastic aviation parts.
Boikon will develop the necessary machines and GKN Fokker is both launching customer and in charge of developing the production process. Luxovius will give the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre the opportunity to share its expertise with the rest of the Dutch industrial sector and help realize the sustainability ambitions of the aviation sector. NHL Stenden will provide its students with the opportunity to get to know the workfield and contribute to research with an associate lector and senior project engineer.