Winter 2016

Primarette takes next step in non-defence applications

The TenCate Advanced Armour facility in Primarette has expanded its production capacity and strengthened its technological basis. Part of the production is now focused on components for non-defence applications, including those for the aerospace industry. The adjustment is in line with the new strategic direction of this company. 

During the last 18 months, TenCate Advanced Armour in Primarette (France) has been actively adjusting and upgrading its production capacity. The attention of the production team, the director Global Aerospace and the project managers has been focused on developing a series of non-defence-related products for a supplier to Airbus – a tier 1 player that supplies systems directly to the aircraft builder. In this case, the aircraft concerned is the Airbus A350.

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Brenden Lefol, team leader, Material Layup in Primarette
 

One of the requirements was the production of complex non-ballistic components in composite systems with metallic assembly points for application in aircraft galleys. Often these galleys are already equipped with ballistic protection from TenCate Advanced Armour and positive experience in this respect led the customer to invite the company to participate in the non-ballistic business as well. The new products are based on fibreglass fabric with metallic and rubber assembly points. This is a completely new product range for TenCate Advanced Armour. 

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The five-axis CNC router for composite profiling

Expansion in production capacity necessitated investment in tri-axial CNC (computer numerical control) machining capability for tooling (mould building). The actual products are manufactured on a new five-axis CNC router for composite profiling, which came from the production facility of the Advanced Armour group in England. 

'A new and exciting challenge'
According to Derek Sherwin, managing director of TenCate Advanced Armour EMEA, this is ‘a new and exciting challenge from both a design and a manufacturing perspective. Never before have we had such equipment.’
This base technology of materials preparation was also new to project manager Mathieu Vilaltella. ‘The application of CNC machining to produce complex moulds and final products with high-quality finishing offers a further exciting opportunity.’ 

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Water-cutting of composites

TenCate Advanced Armour in Primarette manufactures composite materials for vehicle and personal protection. Since November 2011, the company has also had the production capacity for armour in aircraft, and the design, development, qualification, production and support for aircraft protection have been integrated. The development of gamma non-ballistic products is in line with the strategic direction of the Advanced Armour group as set out by Jean Beugels, director Aerospace Global.

A broader basis
‘Jean has been developing the aircraft market for ballistic protection solutions and we now have many of the key aircraft customers. It gives us a broader basis. The non-defence-related market is important – for example, we are also going to develop more components for the automotive industry. Supported by the development of our painting and finishing operations over the past years, this is a step forward in process capability that has enabled a new range of products with extensive variants in terms of products for the portfolio for the aircraft market.’

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Guillaume Buclon (CNC technician) operates the control panel

The next challenge facing the team in Primarette is to match the increasing demand from the existing customer base and use the new technology for other applications, such as add-on armour solutions and non-defence-related product offerings. ‘Once we have established serial production for all the customer products, the next stage will be to look at other plastic and composite parts that we can produce for the customer. Our customers are highly positive as far as our quality, organisation and delivery reliability are concerned.’

Blue fabric (Tecawork Blue 65287)