Innovation That Matters

The composite can be used in a number of places in an aeroplane’s interior | Photo source

Fully recyclable aeroplane cabin interiors

Mobility & Transport

A new composite material for use in aeroplane interiors is 100 per cent recyclable and made using innovative manufacturing techniques

Spotted: Materials company Diab has won an award for its unique composite material that could be the future of aeroplane interiors. The company’s thermoplastic foam core panels represent an alternative to traditional panels. The panels are 100 per cent recyclable, made from 40 per cent recycled materials, can be manufactured 35 times faster than traditional panels, and deliver weight savings of up to 10 per cent.

The panels use a novel thermoplastic skin sandwiched with a foam core. An integral part of the panels is the film which protects the surface with a tough coating. Developed by AkzoNobel Aerospace Coating, this coating can be finished in a range of different colours and textures, and be ‘welded’ to the panel as it is moulded, using a one-step induction heating process that takes minutes rather than hours.

The changes in the way the panels are constructed compared to existing models not only make them more sustainable – they also deliver better performance. The new composite is lighter but offers no decrease in mechanical performance. They also have better thermal and acoustic properties and are fully compliant with airline fire, smoke, and toxicity (FST) regulations.

Diab believes the new innovation has the potential to revolutionise the way that composites are used in cabin interiors. Aurelien Lafforgue, Segment Manager, Aerospace and Industry for Diab says that, “Innovation is in our DNA and our philosophy is that we are never afraid of trying new things. … 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.”

Composite materials are often stronger and lighter weight than traditional materials, but, because they are made of different materials sandwiched together, they can be difficult to recycle. Diab’s composite is unusual in that it is both recyclable and reusable. It is not alone, however. Springwise has also covered recyclable composite innovations such as methods for recycling wind turbine blades into snowsports equipment and flax-based composites. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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