Evolving needs for aircraft-interior materials have prompted GE Plastics of Pittsfield, Mass., to develop new Ultem, Lexan and Noryl products. Customers are testing the materials.
Aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS are under pressure to deliver lighter aircraft. A reduction of 2.2 pounds from a single-aisle airplane can save around $400 in fuel costs per year, according to information from the International Air Transport Association.
GE Plastics set out to expand the performance of existing amorphous thermoplastics and has introduced Ultem 9085 polyetherimide, Lexan FST9705 poly- carbonate copolymer and Noryl LS6010 modified polyphenylene ether/polystyrene blend.
All three are flame-retardant, opaque resins.
GE Plastics has ``a full basket'' of products available for aircraft interiors, said Gina Harm, global market director for transportation.
The new Ultem and Noryl products are halogen-free and the Ultem and Lexan resins comply with the Ohio State University 55/55 heat-release performance standard.
Compared with the firm's industry-standard Ultem 9075, the new Ultem resin can reduce part weight by 5-15 percent through making components with thinner walls. GE said Ultem 9085 can be processed at 630°-660° F compared with Ultem 9075's 660°-700° F.
Ann Delvin, global product manager for high-performance products, said Ultem 9085 allows processors to create large thin-wall parts such as decompression grilles, window reveals and oxygen-mask housings with ``excellent impact resistance and stiffness.''
The Lexan copolymer - a no-paint solution - adds a new resin platform to GE Plastics' offerings. The high-clarity, transparent resin and sheet products give customers the potential to make larger windows, transparent partitions and stairways and light-emitting-diode panels.
In addition to complying with flame, smoke and toxicity standards, FST9705 can be used with molded-in color, including bright whites, and for making ductile thin-wall parts.
Lexan FST9705 can be used with existing tooling and can lead to further weight reduction, said Doug Hamilton, Lexan resin global product manager.
Potential applications include stow-bin threshold trim, oxygen-mask housings, window reveals and bezels, decompression and speaker grilles and magazine racks.
GE Plastics developed Lexan FST9705 over two years and commercialized the material in April. Because of the PC copolymer's composition, the firm needed to add equipment at the production site in Mount Vernon, Ind. The processing temperature range is 540°-580° F.
Noryl LS6010 resin may provide up to 20 percent weight savings compared with competitive resins in the aerospace market, according to GE.
The material is available in customized colors through GE's ColorXpress color-matching service and can eliminate the need for secondary painting.
Noryl LS6010 has a specific gravity of 1.11, and in a part with a comparable wall thickness, is up to 14 percent lighter than a part in polyphenylsulphone resin and 20 percent lighter than a part in polyurethane or PVC, said Tom Hartle, Noryl resin global product manager. The material's availability in colors represents ``a difference in what was available in the states.''
LS6010 can be extruded as well as injection molded and provides a new option for rub strips, seat track covers, switch panels, cable guides, conduit, wall- and ceiling-mounted electronics and machined parts. It can be processed at 430°-500° F.
GE Plastics commercialized LS6010 in January. Minor changes were made to some Selkirk, N.Y., manufacturing lines and procedures to accommodate the new Noryl technology.
``We have taken commercial orders for validation for all three products,'' Harm said.
GE Plastics disclosed the new products during the 2007 Aircraft Interiors Expo, held April 17-19 in Hamburg, Germany, and through an April 25 Web cast.