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Keywords of this article:  injection molding 
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David Hummel, Chief Executive of Victrex.
David Hummel, Chief Executive of Victrex.

Victrex and Tri-Mack Plastics Manufacturing Corporation have established a Joint Venture (JV), TxV Aero Composites, to accelerate the commercial adoption of polyketone (PAEK) composite applications within the aerospace industry.

The new company will be a total solutions provider for polyketone composites, from concept development through commercialization. The multi-million dollar investment includes the establishment of a new US-based manufacturing facility, due to be completed in 2017.

"This is a hugely exciting opportunity to accelerate innovative and differentiated solutions for our customers in the aerospace industry," explained David Hummel, Chief Executive of Victrex. "This investment will enable growth opportunities for both our customers and for Victrex. Our Aerospace Loaded Brackets program is a great example of how we can offer new forms and components, alongside supplying materials, and build a new supply chain to address the unmet needs of the Aerospace industry."

As said, TxV Aero Composites intends to offer a range of PAEK composites, from custom laminates to pre-formed composite inserts for hybrid molding processes, as well as finished composite parts and complete over-molded hybrid composite components and assemblies.

They can deliver weight savings of up to 60% over conventional metallic solutions, and offer continuous manufacturing processes and cycle times measured in minutes versus hours for thermoset alternatives.

One example is VICTREX AE 250 Composites, a new lower temperature processing PAEK-based composite product family that enables a unique hybrid molding process. This innovation combines the strength of continuously-reinforced thermoplastic composites with the design flexibility and proven performance of VICTREX polyether ether ketone (PEEK) injection molding polymers.

Will Kain, President of Tri-Mack stated, "With an estimated 35,000 new aircraft to be launched in the next 20 years, the aerospace industry is embracing thermoplastic composites as a cost-effective solution to support this growth. The efficient processing and performance advantages of PAEK thermoplastic composites combined with automated manufacturing will position TxV Aero Composites to meet the industry’s cost and weight challenges."

Commercial aircraft use thousands of brackets and system attachments from the cockpit to the tail of the plane. The total amount of these components on an aircraft can add a significant amount of cost and weight especially if they are made from machined metal or thermoset layups.

Victrex said PAEK-based components can be manufactured more efficiently than conventional thermoset alternatives, and can deliver significant weight savings compared to stainless steel and titanium while offering equivalent or better mechanical properties such as strength, stiffness, and fatigue.

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