24th July 2012
A new laboratory that provides thermoplastic composites research for Boeing and other aerospace companies has opened at Enschede in the Netherlands. Boeing, Fokker, Ten Cate Advanced Composites and the University of Twente signed an agreement three years ago to establish the TPRC at the university. The agreement called for the TPRC to accelerate scientific and technological developments for new applications of thermoplastic composites, principally in the aerospace industry.
Since then, the TPRC community has focused on adding new members for research, both nationally and internationally, with special emphasis on subject matter experts. In addition to the four founding partners, five companies have joined the TPRC consortium – Instron, DTC, Pinette, Aniform and Italmatic. Besides the aviation industry, these companies come from diverse areas such as equipment manufacturing, mechanical engineering and materials development.
“With this opening, the Thermoplastics Composites Research Center, or TPRC, is no longer a virtual institute,” said William Gerry, who represents Boeing as chairman of the TPRC board. “The TPRC research team is now housed in an outstanding facility that will enable them to do the precise measurements that are necessary to conduct innovative research into thermoplastic composites for a broad range of markets.”
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Boeing has invested in the TPRC to increase its supplier base in the area of thermoplastic composites. The TPRC is aimed at providing Boeing customers with access to accelerated development and use of thermoplastic materials and processing technologies, world-class suppliers and aircraft components at reduced cost, cycle time and weight.
All consortium members allocate an equal share in joint research projects. The University of Twente serves as host for the TPRC, and a dedicated TPRC staff manages its day-to-day operation and research projects.
Research not only involves the aerospace industry but also a broad range of end-use markets such as wind energy, oil and gas, automotive, medical, machinery, infrastructure, sports and marine. The TPRC enables researchers and developers to work together closely on open innovations and use each other’s research equipment.
The use of thermoplastics is growing significantly in the aerospace industry, whose customers want products that are lighter, more cost efficient and environmentally progressive. Companies like Boeing are looking for innovations that will accelerate development of thermoplastic composites technologies and spur their deployment into product lines quickly and efficiently.