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Foamed In-Situ Thermoformable Sandwich (FITS) panels cut weight and cost for aircraft and high-speed train interiors

SMTC France (Materials And Techniques Society Composites) : 25 March, 2014  (New Product)
At JEC Europe 2014 in Paris, SMTC introduced Dynatech, a thermoplastic sandwich panel system, suitable for mass-production, principally targeting aircraft, although also high-speed train interiors. These applications require light weight in combination with damage tolerance and specified fire, smoke and toxicity (FST). It also offers better thermic and acoustic isolation compared to traditional honeycombs based on thermoset (mainly phenolic) panels. Its heat resistance properties make this system a highly desirable and long-lasting material.
Due to its thermoplastic nature as a ready-to-be formed sandwich system for mass production, Dynatech can be used for manufacturing various complex shaped parts in the interior of aircrafts and trains, for example seats, luggage racks, overhead-bins, side-walls, trolleys, galleys, tables, bars or doors. 
In licensing this innovation for Dynatech from inventor and patent-holder FITS Technology, SMTC, formerly focused on producing aluminium-based honeycomb systems, is now investing in thermoplastic mass-market-technology. Business developer AMAC, headed by entrepreneur Michael Effing, is the third partner in the venture.
Dynatech (formerly FITS) panels consists of a polyetherimide (PEI) in-situ foamed foam and a fibre reinforced PEI - usually polysulfone (PES) or polyethersulfone (PPSU) - consolidated facing. Due to their totally thermoplastic nature, the panels can be shaped and formed in seconds, with very low added weight (<5%). Therefore, products manufactured from FITS panels generally have a 10-40% lower weight than the parts from current incumbents, such as Nomex honeycomb, foam or aluminium
Due to the patented closed-box procedure, this system allows for sophisticated design of the edge close-out which actually becomes the strongest part of the system. Dynatech's automated production provides a total system cost reduction of up to 20-30%, in addition to the weight reduction of 20-40%, and guarantees quality standards and process control. 
FITS panels can be manufactured with a thickness of 3.2 to 25mm, with an in-situ foam density of 80–250kg/m[3]. Facing thickness ranges from 0.1 to 0.6mm. The fibre-reinforced facings can be reinforcements with glass, carbon or aramid fibres, UD, fabrics, fleece or mats. Facings can be coloured as required and decoration by transfer printing is also possible.
Dynatech is expected to generate new design opportunities, because aircraft and train builders can use thinner layers of sandwich material, increasing cabin space. 
The production of pilots has already started, qualifications are running and the first customers have received prototypes. The full commercial production is expected to be ready in 2016.
Martin de Groot, CEO of FITS Technology and inventor of the process, reveals what gave him the idea of this invention: “Through its automated processing, in comparison with traditional sandwich systems, Dynatech is much less labour-intensive. It allows for extremely short cycle times, with only a few minutes pressing and a maximum manufacturing time of 30s per edge.”
Typical FITS {Panels
FITS panel In situ foam density/thickness PEI thermoplastic facings Resin content 33 (+/-2%) Panel weight
T= 4 mm 100 kg/m[3]
3.7 mm
2/1 US style 120 cons. glass: 100 g/layer 830 g/m[2]
T= 8 mm 90 kg/m[3]
7.1 mm
2/2 US style 7781 cons. glass: 300 g/layer 2440 g/m[2]
T= 7.5 mm 90 kg/m[3]
7.1 mm
1/1 US style 7781 cons. glass: 300 g/layer 1540 g/m[2]

Edited by Andy Pye

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