A grade of polyetheretherketone (PEEK) advanced engineering thermoplastic from Victrex (West Conshohocken, PA) has secured qualification from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, thereby opening up the possibility to save as much as 70% weight compared with metals.
Victrex PEEK 90HMF40 is a high-flow, easy-processing material that delivers parts with a high modulus. This provides an advantage helping engineers to design components that can deliver an equivalent strength and stiffness at up to 70% lighter weights when compared to traditional aerospace metals such as stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum.
“Removing as little as 100 pounds (45 kg) can result in up to $10,000 in annual fuel cost savings per long-range plane. We are excited for the opportunities that the Victrex PEEK 90HMF40 qualification can bring given airline demands to improve fuel efficiency,” says Harald Hedderich, Aerospace Strategic Marketing Manager for Victrex Polymer Solutions.
While standard unfilled, carbon fiber, and glass-fiber-filled Victrex PEEK polymers have been qualified for more than 25 years in some instances, Victrex PEEK 90HMF40 delivers several key benefits those grades cannot. The high-modulus polymer provides up to 100 times longer fatigue life and up to 20% higher specific strength and stiffness when compared to Aluminum 7075-T6 under the same conditions. These high mechanical properties, its ability to perform across a broad temperature range and its durability in chemically aggressive environments reportedly allows Victrex PEEK polymers to continue to be a material of choice for the aerospace industry.