Composite material specialist Cytec Engineered Products (Chalet C4-5) has two factory expansion projects under way. The company is also here at the Farnborough International Airshow discussing a new process that combines low-cost manufacturing and the ability to produce primary structure components.
The first project is the restart of a plan to expand carbon fiber manufacturing at its Piedmont, South Carolina facility. The expansion will double Cytec’s capacity for polyacrylonitrile-based (PAN-based) carbon fiber production.
U.S.-based Cytec uses these fibers in the manufacture of pre-impregnated materials (prepregs). Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, with commercial fiber production anticipated for 2014.
Meanwhile, in Greenville, Texas, Cytec is building an expansion to its factory and associated infrastructure. This will support a new impregnation line, which will increase the site’s carbon fiber-reinforced prepreg capacity by 20 percent. Commercial production in the new facility is expected to begin in 2015.
Both projects support “growing demand for Cytec’s composite materials products in the aerospace industry,” the firm said. Cytec’s workforce, now at 2,000, is thus growing. James Pigford, director of program management, told AIN the Boeing 787’s production start has been a favorable factor.
Cytec is also busy developing more straightforward composite manufacturing techniques. For example, its new Prism EP2400 resin infusion system brings easier, out-of-autoclave production to primary aircraft structures. Thanks to its low cure temperature, it does not need an autoclave. Hence, lower capital, tooling and manufacturing costs, according to the firm. In addition, part size is no longer limited by the autoclave’s size.
Resin infusion enables complex textile geometries. “This process gives more freedom,” Pigford said. With the EP2400, these benefits are brought to primary structure manufacturing. He further explained that his engineers have created “a new class of toughness” in infused products.