Advanced fibre reinforced composites are already extensively used in modern aircraft, due to advantages offered for weight reduction, durability, mechanical performance, etc. However, composite structures in aerospace are usually not associated with low costs. Traditional design methods are very time consuming, materials and production processes very expensive as well as labour intensive. To make full use of the potential of composites, a complete redesign of aircraft structures is necessary. Owing to qualification and certification procedures the introduction of low cost materials or low cost production processes is hindered. This paper describes the results of a collaborative research project aimed at achieving significant cost reductions in the manufacturing of advanced composites for aerospace applications. As part of the cost reduction objectives of the project, an innovative knowledge based engineering approach was followed during the preliminary design and analysis of the wingbox structure. In order to develop a realistic demonstrator, an analysis of an aerodynamically loaded full generic wingbox structure of a business jet type of aircraft was performed. The sizing of the ribs, front spar and rear spar as well as upper and lower skin panels were determined by means of different load cases further on, an optimisation of the wingbox with respect to its weight was performed by using a standard structural concept which is sizing based on the feasilisation methodology. The results are gratifying, since is possible to build them reducing costs, however there is more to research, since some of the process should be carried out in vacuum.
To read more, look for the work of Van Hattum et al. “Cost reduction in manufacturing of aerospace composites” published in Plastics, Rubber and Composites 2011 Vol 40, No. 2.