Co-developed with Crane & Co., Ultem polyetherimide (PEI) resin composite aerospace board (CAB) sheets from SABIC Innovative Plastics are said to provide an alternative to thermoset aramid fibre-reinforced honeycomb composites.
Capable of being quickly thermoformed, these recyclable sheets are currently being trailed by a major airline.
The use of advanced thermoplastics to replace traditional thermosets in aircraft interiors offers multiple benefits including cost reduction. Because aramid honeycomb composites are highly sensitive to moisture and ultraviolet (UV) light, the porous edges of a part must be laboriously filled and sealed by hand, a process that can take up to 10 hours.
In contrast, Ultem CAB sheet parts can be quickly thermoformed in minutes and need no secondary finishing, thanks to the excellent UV resistance and low moisture absorption properties of Ultem resin. In addition to faster cycle times, Ultem CAB sheet is said to cut system costs through its ability to be re-skinned while still meeting required flame-smoke-toxicity (FST) properties to lengthen its useful life, an option previously not available to customers with aramid honeycomb composite. A sheet weighs on average 1350 gm/sq meter, and can be customised to meet a range of part weight requirements.
According to the company, target applications for the new composite include sidewalls, cockpit panels, ceiling panels, door liners and dividers.