Lightweight garage #2 CFRP pressure dome @ Airbus A 320

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Lightweight garage, News

The vehicle

Since the mid-1970s, fiber-reinforced plastics have been an integral part of the body shell and cladding of civil aircraft. With many positive lightweight construction factors in mind, the first production-ready demonstrator of a CFRP pressure bulkhead from Premium Aerotec was presented at the ILA Berlin in April 2018.

The pressure dome is designed for the pressurized cabin of an Airbus A320 and not only impresses with its weight savings compared to its aluminium predecessor, but also with its joining process and the associated automation potential.

The technology

One of the main technological advances is the use of electrical resistance welding to join the spherical components. This process is ideally suited to the material combination of carbon fiber and thermoplastic matrix. The pressure calotte, which is made up of eight segments, can thus be joined by melting the thermoplastic, resulting in a virtually defect-free joining zone. In addition, in contrast to riveting and the associated pre-drilling of the joining zones, this process is cleaner and faster, which is reflected in lower costs and shorter cycle times.

The use of a fiber matrix composite makes particular sense in this area of application, as the high compressive forces in the pressure chamber can be absorbed by the fibers in the tensile direction. The aim for production is to deposit the fibers in a load-oriented manner, but without an autoclave or vacuum chamber.

This further reduces cycle times and keeps production simple. Partial cut-outs in the spherical cap are reinforced with radial fibre layers in order to design the component in a load-oriented and weight-optimized manner.

In the Airbus A380, the CFRP construction even succeeds with a diameter of the pressure dome of 6 meters, whereby this concept must be reinforced by additional ribs with a foam core in order to guarantee passengers a comfortable pressure level corresponding to 2000 meters altitude.

The lightweight aspect

The weight-saving potential of this process is around 25 percent, with the manufacturing advantages and short cycle times also being responsible for the success of this model.

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