Supporting developments in lightweighting helps UK companies take advantage of opportunities

19 January 2017

The Advanced Structural Testing Centre (ASTC) of the AMRC with Boeing is working in collaboration with UK company TISICS exploring the development of materials for demanding environments, such as transport, energy and the manufacturing sectors.

TISICS specialise in the development and manufacture of high strength lightweight titanium metal matrix composites.  Reinforced with silicon carbide monofilaments, the material is of great benefit where high strength and low weight are critical to performance.

As part of a programme of work co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, the ASTC will be working with TISICS to complete fatigue testing and certification on titanium composite actuator rods.

The titanium actuator rods are being developed for use in commercial aircraft assemblies such as landing gear, wings and engines and are reinforced with silicon carbide, a metal matrix composite designed with exceptional compression strength. The lightness and corrosion resistant are also ideally suited to landing gear applications.

TISICS are also developing actuators rods in highly specialised aerospace technology such as satellites where ‘lightweighting’ is critical to the design of components, as saving the smallest amount of weight can have a massive impact on launch costs.

Head of the ASTC, Phil Spiers, said: “Materials used in high-value applications such as this, are required to operate in demanding environments, where high load and damage tolerance is critical. The ability to develop materials tailored to these situations gives UK businesses a competitive edge in a global market.

“Helping TISICS to prove out their concept by testing to support the manufacturing techniques and validate the performance of the rods, will allow us to demonstrate a part which could halve the weight of a traditional steel actuator rod; maximising weight savings for aerospace manufacturers.

“The project will open up big opportunities in the aerospace sector as there can be as many as a few hundred actuator rods in every aircraft. Weight savings can many provide opportunities to create value and improve performance.”

Managing Director of TISICS, Stephen Kyle-Henney said: “TISICS metal composite technology has the potential to save 35 to 70 per cent weight on many aircraft and space system components. This work demonstrates the advances in the material and manufacturing performance over the past four years.

“The data produced by the project will enable us to verify performance and raise investment to mature the technology to production, generating UK jobs and international product sales in these growing high value markets.

“Having experience of working with Phil and his team previously, we know the ASTC has unique capabilities and expertise in testing real components in flight-representative test regimes.

“As an SME, TISICS has been very fortunate to enjoy the open access to the team and facilities at the AMRC through this Innovate UK funding support and we are looking forward to working with them again.”

Phil Spiers said that the partnership with TISICS and the AMRC can be traced back to the development of the ASTC in 2008: “The ASTC worked with TISICS as one of our original partners in research validation. We assisted them testing products they had developed as part of a Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK) project, supporting Integrated Wing research programme with Airbus and Messier-Bugatti-Dowty (now Safran Landing Systems).

“It’s great to partner TISICS again and to assist them in exploiting opportunities in new markets, keeping the UK competitive in the global aerospace market.”

“We are already working with TISICS to develop the fixtures and fittings needed for the testing, ready for the new components to arrive on site. The project is a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate how collaborative working can showcase UK manufacturing skill.”

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