Composites Today

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Toray to provide prepreg materials for Overair and NASA programs

Toray’s Carbon Fiber and Resin System will be part of Overair’s all-electric aircraft expected to take flight in 2023.

Overair, Inc. and Toray Composite Materials America, Inc., the leading manufacturer of advanced carbon fiber and composite prepreg materials, announced a strategic collaboration on utilization of Toray’s advanced prepreg system in Overair’s Butterfly prototype program. Unparalleled in safety and efficiency, the Butterfly is a low-noise, zero-emission electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that will provide sustainable aerial ridesharing in densely populated cities where traffic is a problem.

The Butterfly prototype aircraft utilizes Toray’s T1100/3960 prepreg system, a material that is formulated for high-performance aerospace applications where the optimal ratio of strength to modulus properties is critical. Toray’s 3960 is a highly toughened 350°F/177°C cure epoxy resin with a glass transition temperature (Tg) of 400°F/204°C. It is optimized for increased performance and allows for autoclave and out-of-autoclave curing. The resin is synergistic with the TORAYCA™ T1100 next-generation intermediate modulus plus (IM+) carbon fiber, which is the highest tensile strength fiber available today. The T1100/3960 unidirectional and plain weave prepreg is utilized in the Butterfly’s airframe structure and propulsion units.

Toray is among the shortlist of composites material suppliers who are members of the Advanced Composites Consortium (ACC) and are supporting NASA’s Hi-Rate Composite Aircraft Manufacturing (HiCAM) project. The ACC is a Public-Private Partnership which includes NASA, FAA, select aerospace and materials companies, and academia that supports the HiCAM project. The project seeks to dramatically improve the manufacturing rates of composite airframe structures for future single-aisle commercial aircraft manufactured in the United States. Its approach includes the use of high-rate composite technologies to improve production rates and cost without sacrificing weight and performance attributes.

“The HiCAM project has completed tasks supporting formulation and is entering the next phase for technology development.  We are pleased to have Toray as one of the members representing raw material suppliers.” said Richard Young, HiCAM project manager.

Toray Composite Materials America, Inc. (TCMA), manufacturer of TORAYCA™ carbon fiber and aerospace-grade thermoset prepregs, is involved in three sections of the project’s current phase supplying TORAYCA™ carbon fiber and next-generation thermoset prepregs. TCMA also provides process guidance of the materials’ use in automated fiber placement (AFP) process development, rapid cure, and resin infusion for wing and fuselage structures. The thermoset prepregs utilize intermediate modulus plus (IM+) carbon fiber with a toughened epoxy resin system, providing structural performance, low resin content, and tight physical property manufacturing tolerances. “We’re proud to participate in the ACC’s effort to reduce cost, improve performance and increase delivery rates of single aisle commercial aircrafts to retain the United States’ competitive advantage in aircraft manufacturing,” according to Jeff Cross, TCMA Director of Business Development for Aerospace. Toray Advanced Composites (TAC), manufacturer of a broad range of thermoset and thermoplastic composite technologies, is directly involved in four additional sections of the program with a range of Cetex® thermoplastic UD tapes and material science input.  These materials represent state of the art structural thermoplastic composites on standard, intermediate and intermediate modulus plus (IM+) TORAYCA™ carbon fibers and are being utilized in innovative part fabrication and assembly processes. “Toray is honored to support this holistic material and process technology initiative, helping US aerospace manufacturing achieve an unprecedented 4-6x production rate increase” according to Steve Cease, TAC VP of Technology.

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