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Unfilled thermoset with inherent fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) performance for aero composite interiors

Huntsman Advanced Materials (Duxford) : 08 September, 2013  (New Product)
Huntsman Advanced Materials has launched a high-performance and inherently flame resistant thermoset for RTM and infusion processing which offers greater strength in interior aerospace designs.
With operating costs continuing to rise and the perceived need to improve the revenue potential on each and every new aircraft being commissioned, most recently attention has shifted somewhat from the airframe to aircraft interiors in the continuous drive for weight reduction. For many commercial aircraft interior use of composites is just as crucial, as the weight of composite interiors exceeds that of the airframe.
Aircraft manufacturers are expected to deliver in excess of 17,000 new aircraft in the decade 2012-2022, including dedicated cargo planes. The use of interior composites is expected to increase by some 50% over the period with the joint interests of operators and conservationists in the link between weight reduction and reduced carbon emissions.From overhead bins and ceiling panels to cabin dividers, galleys and bulkheads, the use of interior composites in the pursuit of weight reduction vies with lighter textiles and leathers on seating, lighter food carts, the elimination of in-flight magazines and thinner display screens to achieve the desired results.
Araldite FST 40002/40003 is a radically different development that provides a unique combination of high mechanical, fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) performance. In contrast to other materials used in interiors, Araldite FST 40002/40003 is an unfilled system. The inherent FST properties of the system come from the chemical nature of the network and its high cross-link density. The new system meets the FAR 25.853 vertical burn, smoke and toxicity requirements with both carbon and glass fibre in all thickness configurations.
By comparison to phenolic resins which are subject to a polycondensation type reaction and are used for non- and semi-structural applications, Araldite FST 40002/40003 undergoes a polyaddition reaction without gas release. This enables significant weight reduction, improved composites quality, elimination of intensive part production post-operations as well as a cleaner and healthier manufacturing solution for operators, supporting closed mold processes and VOC emissions free system exposure.
The mixed two-component system exhibits a low viscosity at working temperatures above 50C. The latency range from 50 to 100C provides the ability to produce complex parts in small and large dimensions. In addition, Araldite FST 40002/40003 has a low reaction energy of about 220J/g which eliminates bulk exothermic safety issues and enables large thickness composite part production.
In comparison to traditional RTM and infusion systems, its viscosity and reactivity profile shows snap-cure behaviour which allows fast Tg and interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) development. Also, after pre-cure conditions of approximately one hour at 100C, followed by one hour at 120C, the system can be demoulded, resulting in moulding time and mould cost optimisation. Indeed after the latter pre-cure conditions, the system develops 85-90% of its ultimate ILSS – when measured on carbon fabric reinforcement. Pre-curing is followed by two-hour post-curing at 180C, which can be done either in the mould or free-standing.
Araldite FST 40002/40003 develops dry and wet Tg of 260C and 185C (measured by DMA) with very high ILSS performance of 97MPa and 55MPa at 23C and 120C respectively – when measured on unidirectional carbon reinforcement. Surprisingly for a system with such high Tg and high crosslinking density, it also exhibits high tensile elongation and appreciable toughness, enabling the substitution of metal in highly structural applications.
The heat release of the system is highly dependent on composite thickness, making it ideally suited for non-visible parts in the interior that do not have direct contact with potential ignition sources, as well as cockpit parts that currently do not need to pass heat release. 
Due to the filtration effect, filled systems are processed with open fabric where low fibre content sacrifices composites performance. With the new Araldite system, the combination of excellent matrix mechanical properties and high fibre volume capabilities maximise performance, meeting industry demand for further weight savings.
Advanced composites processes and materials are essential for high-performance fibre reinforced composites to penetrate the aerospace market to their full potential," says Olivier de Verclos, Technical Support, Composites & Tooling Team Leader. "With Araldite FST 40002/40003, RTM and infusion processing provides improved strength for lighter and mechanically superior parts which can be cost-effectively produced. It provide an alternative to metal in structural applications and phenolics in non and semi-structural applications.”
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