Crucially, the film can effectively be ‘welded’ to the panel as it is molded in a single, one-step process that takes minutes rather than in multiple layers which can take hours. The film was chosen because of AkzoNobel’s credibility and reputation for innovation in the aerospace industry, and because it is the only coating on the market capable of resisting the high temperatures required in the curing process.
An alternative to ‘traditional’ structures, Diab’s thermoplastic foam core panels are considerably more flexible than standard honeycomb core and phenolic resin materials in how they can be shaped and molded for different applications. In an age when sustainability is key, the panels are not only made of 40% recyclable materials for foam core Divinycell F but are also themselves 100% recyclable, and fully compliant with European REACH regulations.
Because of how the new panels are designed, they can be manufactured up to 35 times faster than ‘traditional’ panels and deliver a weight saving of anything up to 10%. The former has a direct impact on reducing the cost (by up to 20%) and accelerating the speed of manufacture – a major challenge for the future of aircraft production. The latter is essential in further improving airline fuel efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions, and similarly reducing cost.
The advantages of the new panels are not only related to efficiency gains. Aurelien Lafforgue, Segment Manager, Aerospace and Industry for Diab, says they also deliver greater performance: “While the structure of the new composite makes them lighter, they lose nothing in mechanical performance,” he explains.
“They have better thermal and acoustic properties, helping to reduce the effects of noise and vibration in the cabin, and therefore delivering even greater customer comfort and a better traveller experience. They are also 100% compliant with FST requirements, having passed all relevant tests with a good safety margin.”
AkzoNobel’s technical team liaised closely with Diab’s own technical experts in the US and Europe to develop the solution which has already secured significant interest from the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers.
Christophe Ruiz, Area Sales Manager at AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings, says that the new innovation has the potential to revolutionize cabin interiors: “It shows what can be achieved through more than a decade in partnership and we are very much looking forward to working further with the Diab team on future developments and what we can discover together.”
Aurelien agrees: “Innovation is in our DNA and our philosophy is that we are never afraid of trying new things. With the valuable support we have received from AkzoNobel, we believe we are shaping a new future in cabin interiors, breaking down the barriers of conservative thinking, and opening our industry’s minds to a new way of working.”