The recently formally launched TAPAS research program, where Airbus together with TenCate, Stork Fokker AESP, Airborne Composites, KVE Composites Group, Dutch Thermoplastic Components, Technobis and University of Twente and Technical University of Delft cooperate in developing a new generation of thermoplastic composites for a.o. body parts, has received a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs for the amount of € 6.6 million. This grant covers half of the total research budget (€ 13.2 million).
Dutch aviation industry
The TAPAS (Thermo Plastic Affordable Primary Aircraft Structure) research program is important for the Dutch aerospace cluster. This grant is an important support in the field of innovation, as technological developments in the aviation industry have a relatively long turnaround. Such governmental support facilitates the development of future Dutch employment in knowledge-intensive industrial production.
Composite materials from TenCate consist of a compound of carbon or glass fibers that, with the addition of synthetic resins, are consolidated into plate material and marketed under the name TenCate Cetex®. One of the unique characteristic of this material includes the fact that when heated in a molding press it becomes deformable (thermoplastic). The material can be industrially processed into molded parts. Composites are increasingly replacing traditional materials, such as aluminum.
The research program focuses among others on the development of a new generation of thermoplastic composite materials for use in primary structural components of future Airbus aircraft. TenCate was the birthplace of the development of light-weight thermoplastic composite materials for the aviation industry and has enjoyed a relationship with Airbus for some considerable time. TenCate Cetex® is already used for some years in aircraft, but with the arrival of the Airbus A380 the use will grow strongly. TenCate Cetex® is currently being used a.o. for interior parts, floor and wing panels.
Within the TAPAS program the thermoplastic composite technology will be further developed for future Airbus applications, including primary structure parts such as fuselage and wings. TenCate makes a significant contribution to the efforts of Airbus to achieve eco-efficiency. In view of the trends in the market, the scale on which the material will be used is expected to increase considerably.