Case story

World's First Thermoplastic Rear Pressure Bulkhead

Premium AEROTEC has recently developed an innovative thermoplastic rear pressure bulkhead, using TenCate Cetex® thermoplastic composite materials, meeting the challenge of increased build rates whilst lightweighting the existing generation of single-aisle aircraft.

The rear pressure bulkhead forms an airtight barrier between the passenger cabin and the tail section, maintaining the correct air pressure and ensuring a safe flight (it also carries structural loads, e.g., torsional loads from the VTP).

This technology demonstrator, designed by Premium Aerotec, consists of 8 equally-sized segments, manufactured at IVW in Kaiserslautern, using TenCate Cetex® TC1100 Carbon/PPS reinforced thermoplastic laminates, and was assembled with cutting-edge electrical-resistance welding technology at DLR’s Centre for Lightweight Production Technology.

By utilizing thermoplastic composite material technology, Premium Aerotec have achieved the production of a part with:

  • Significant weight savings (35 kg/77 lb compared to aluminum component 41 kg/90 lb)
  • Reduced processing and assembly time by 75%
  • Enabled higher rate of manufacturing units. In excess of one hundred units per month is feasible
  • Attractive business case

Additionally, the welding technology employed ensures:

  • A whole-surface, substance-to-substance bond
  • No rivets, thus reducing both production time, weight, and cost
  • High degree of process reliability
  • Suited to automation processing and effi cient series production

This concept is an essential building block for the next generation of aircraft fuselages, with high production rates.

Technology achievements of this project

  • Cutting-edge thermoforming process for large and complex shapes (3D-shaped components)
  • Innovative welding technology incorporating a homogenous composite structure (without extraneous material)
  • Innovative integration of doublers
  • First ever use of thermoplastic composite materials for this application (large primary structure)

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