EFW‘s VAP®- CFRP components within the A350 design

VAP® components:
Design. No limits.

VAP® (Vacuum Assisted Process) technology is an aerospace industry-wide standard for manufacturing of highly stressed structural components. It gives engineers the necessary degrees of freedom to implement complex 3D geometries. Tooling costs are kept at a minimum by using flexible vacuum structures.

EFW uses VAP® (Vacuum Assisted Process) technology for manufacturing of A350 VAP® beams for A350XWB.

The latest Airbus study about air traffic growth implies that the RPK (revenue passenger kilometre) will increase on a yearly basis by 4.7% (see Figure 1). At the same time airline operators will keep fuel costs at the level of 2011 as shown in Figure 2 below.

Estimated annual growth rate
Figure 1: Estimated annual growth rate for RPK
Courtesy of Airbus
Estimated unit costs
Figure 2: Estimated unit costs for RPK
Courtesy of Airbus

This increase in efficiency can only be achieved by low fuel jet engines, better aerodynamics and lighter materials. For this reason the lightweight manufacturing technology (especially the carbon fiber reinforced plastics, CFRP) has an outstanding importance for the entire aerospace industry.

Driven by these requirements EFW was assigned by Airbus to develop a new floor concept based on CFRP. This concept has been successfully implemented within the A350 Design, currently one of the most ambitious civil Airbus project. By implementing CFRP components into the floor concept puts not only Airbus into the position to exploit the maximum potential of the weight, stress and maintenance opportunities but also gives airline operators the possibility to influence the cabin layout even in a late configuration phase of an aircraft. Kitchen, trolleys and rest compartments can now be arranged individually on customer needs.

To fulfil the high demands for fatigue and stress (up to 30 kN) requirements as well as the challenging weight targets (less than 1kg resin for a single cross beam) EFW introduced a new cross beam component designed with 3D characteristics made of CFRP as shown in the picture below.

VAP 3D Components
Assembled CFRP part with 3D characteristics and connection points to seat rail and cabin monument

This CFRP-Rib is manufactured by using VAP (Vacuum Assisted Process) technology, which was enhanced by EFW to use not only in single but also in small and mid-size volume production. Hence the Vacuum Assisted Process at EFW combines all advantages of this manufacturing technology with the cost savings of an efficient serial production.

VAP infusion oven
Up to 12 parts per oven cycle can be manufactured with the current shop floor set up
VAP console
Process control display for every part manufactured in one oven cycle

To secure high quality standards for this primary shaping process (tolerances for width, length and thickness < 0.5mm) the production is real-time monitored during every step of the infiltration process. Hence the Quality department is able to verify all key process indicators (such as vacuum, resin and tooling temperature etc.) online during the infiltration process or offline by reviewing the automatically generated and stored reports for every part.

VAP preparation for vacuum-assisted process
Cleanroom conditions during the preparation of the infiltration process are key for high quality
VAP resin dispenser
The special EFW resin metering system ensures a precision of +- 5g

Quality reports and process orders are linked by the production control system automatically for reducing production time and increasing the degree of automation. Additionally a resin metering system ensures resin weight tolerances of ± 5g. Summed up, EFW is actually one of the leading quality manufacturers in the VAP-Industry.

As a result of excellent engineering knowledge combined with leading edge manufacturing technology EFW is able to reduce the production price for VAP-Products by 30% to 60% compared to the same component made of Titanium alloys.

CFRP Beam
CFRP Beam
Titanium Beam
Titanium Beam
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