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04 May 2010
Commercial Aircraft

Airbus team develops environmentally-friendly composites process

Summary

Optimal eco-efficiency is the goal at all Airbus production sites – including the Illescas, Spain plant, where employees have devised a simpler, faster, greener method for compacting composite material components.

Employees at Airbus' Illescas, Spain plant have developed a more eco-efficient compacting process, which is a critical element in the production of quality composite aircraft components.

This new method – which uses recyclable, long-lasting elastic silicone membranes – cuts waste levels by reducing the number of stages in the compacting operation. The process is now being patented.

The employee-developed compacting innovation is also simpler, faster and less expensive than the previous method, which used a vacuum bag. A damaged vacuum bag has to be removed and replaced, but a defect in a membrane can be sealed with a simple patch. The process is 70 per cent more efficient, and it has also helped to improve the quality of the product.

Now implemented in the Illescas plant, the process is currently being utilised for the horizontal tail plane on the A330/A340 and A320 Family programmes – but it could be applied to any process compacting a composite material component.

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