Socata Tries Hand At Composites

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EADS Socata hopes to revolutionize its manufacturing processes through the use of new advanced composites manufacturing techniques that could provide it lighter parts, for less money, built in less time. In partnership with other private-sector entities it would provide 32 percent toward a EU$9.3 million FUSCOMP, short for fuselage composite, program for the manufacture of a composite fuselage demonstrator based on the turboprop-single TBM 850 fuselage design but developed through vacuum infusion. The research-and-design-focused program is based on using vacuum pressure to inject liquid resin into dry fiber in a closed mold -- as opposed to working with pre-impregnated fiber materials cured in an autoclave. The new manufacturing method will allow for use of new materials and reduced production cycles, materials and manufacturing costs. The program's approval this week by the French Government paves the way for backing by government and local funding, which would make up the remaining 68 percent of the program's cost.