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carbon fiber tape Image: Sabic

PEI Tape Targets Metal Replacement in Aircraft

The continuous-carbon-fiber tape has potential in aerospace applications, such as seat frames and luggage compartments.

Jiangsu Hansu New Material Co. has debuted a family of unidirectional (UD) composite tapes — H-poly-Stallone-CF7000_PEI — made with continuous carbon fiber and Sabic’s Ultem 1000F3SP polyetherimide (PEI) powder. Jiangsu Hansu, a leading thermoplastic composites manufacturer based in Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, worked with Sabic to develop the new UD tapes for potential use in high-performance aerospace applications such as seat frames and luggage compartments. As a possible replacement for metal, these UD tapes provide opportunities to reduce weight, improve fuel efficiency, and support sustainability — key goals for the aircraft industry.

Sabic’s Ultem powder offers inherent flame retardance, long-term heat stability, strength and stiffness, and dimensional stability. “Our collaboration with Sabic has enabled us to expand our portfolio from materials for computer electronics into the higher-performance composites space where we are able to meet the most stringent demands of aerospace applications,” said Xu Shenggang, Chief Technology Officer, Jiangsu Hansu. “Selecting Ultem 1000F3SP powder allows us to offer an alternative to traditional epoxies widely used in the industry. It provides an exceptional balance of properties, while providing more-efficient processing than thermosets, since curing is not needed.”

During the manufacturing process, Jiangsu Hansu combines continuous carbon fibers with Ultem 1000F3SP powder, a product offering Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliance and a glass transition temperature (Tg) of 217°C. The easy dispersion of Ultem 1000F3SP powder in water makes it possible to create a homogeneous slurry that is uniformly distributed among the carbon fibers. The resulting composite tape has highly consistent properties, which are critical for demanding aerospace applications.

“Our Ultem 1000F3SP powder was a game-changer for Jiangsu Hansu, enabling them to create their high-performance UD composite tapes to address the needs of their customers in the aerospace industry,” said Lili Xu, Senior Business Manager, Sabic. “This advanced material helps position Jiangsu Hansu to penetrate an entirely new market sector that offers tremendous growth opportunities. It also underscores how Sabic collaborates with customers to help them succeed.”

Sabic also produces Ultem resin in injection molding grades. Injection molded components can then be thermoformed with UD composite tape and over-molded with functional elements — all with the same polymer. The advantages of this approach include the potential for recyclability and a high level of design flexibility.

Polyetherimide is one of the highest-performing thermoplastics in commercial production. It is an amorphous polymer with a very high Tg — around 70°C higher than polyetheretherketone (PEEK) — and provides excellent impact resistance. It also provides outstanding flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) performance, as confirmed in standard Ohio State University (OSU) tests.

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