At this year's JEC Europe, which will take place in Paris from March 10 to 12, UK-based Victrex, a leading global provider of PAEK solutions, will be showcasing its cutting-edge products for the aerospace and energy sectors. The main focus at the company's booth (hall 7.2, stand F41) will be on a new hybrid molding technology that Victrex Aerospace Strategic Business Unit Director Tim Herr describes as a "game-changing technology that opens up endless design possibilities."
Working closely together with engineers and technicians along the supply chain, Victrex has developed a new PAEK-based polymer and an innovative hybrid molding technology, which allows engineers to overmold a PAEK-based composite with fiber-reinforced PEEK injection molding materials. The polymeric advancement allows engineers to design stronger, lower cost components that are up to 60% lighter than typical metal and thermoset systems, resulting in an unmatched combination of strength and design flexibility in aerospace components. Moreover, the overmolding process enables the production of a part in minutes compared to the hours it could take for a metal or thermoset equivalent.
"Not only are we able to offer a solution with unique performance characteristics, we are able to partner with customers to design by analysis and to move from concept to commercialization much faster," explained Herr.
Designing by analysis establishes a framework where the latest modeling software is used to design a part to specific requirements. A prototype is built and the performance of the model is validated in a lab setting.
"By proving the value of this process using our extensive PAEK polymer knowledge, we are now able to expedite future part designs," said Herr.
Within the aerospace sector, escalating aircraft backlogs have airframers searching for solutions that can improve efficiency along the entire supply chain as a means to reducing total system costs.
The performance demands of aerospace components continue to push the limits of current metal and thermoset materials. With the launch of its hybrid molding technology, Victrex's solution makes it possible to pair the strength of Victrex PAEK-based continuously-reinforced composites with the design flexibility of Victrex PEEK injection molding solutions. In addition, achieving high specific strength with up to 60% weight savings as well as consolidating parts to create an elegant, highly-functional component, helps to reduce aircraft manufacturing time and weight.
The oil and gas sector, Victrex's second focus during JEC, has a few things in common with aerospace, most importantly mitigating risks and the development of durable cost-effective solutions.
"To push the boundaries of downhole tool performance to new levels, Victrex invests in ongoing and rigorous test regimes to assure that our solutions perform in the most extreme HPHT1 environments," said Tom Swanson, Energy Strategic Business Unit Director at Victrex. Victrex is heavily involved with standards committees such as NORSOK2, ISO and API3 in order to develop a comprehensive protocol for the lifetime prediction of high-performance polymers.
Victrex solutions have been used in more than 75 million sealing systems to date. "We are the only PAEK solutions provider able to offer 35 years of expertise and a vast portfolio of products to meet the ever-changing demands of downhole environments," added Swanson.
Productivity is of the utmost importance in the oil and gas industry with tool failures costing $100,000 on average. One further challenge the industry faces is that unconventional reserves are forcing exploration and production companies to expose valuable equipment to high pressures as well as corrosive fluids and gases across an extreme temperature range.