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THERMOPLASTIC COMPOSITES FOR AEROSPACE: MAKING THE CASE FOR METAL REPLACEMENT IN COMPLEX-SHAPE COMPONENTS
Compression molded Discontinuous Long Fiber (DLF) composites continue to see successful Aerospace adoption for metal replacement opportunities, providing a viable non-metallic option for cost-effective production of complex-shape components. Typically, DLF is used in applications where injection molding lacks sufficient performance, but use of traditional continuous fiber composite materials is impractical or impossible due to the complex component geometry. Compared to metal, DLF composites provide particular benefits for structural brackets, fittings, or clips; including significant weight reductions and opportunities for parts-consolidation to eliminate secondary assembly operations. DLF materials are produced by chopping high fiber content aerospace-qualified unidirectional prepreg tape into “flakes” or “chips”, followed by compression molding into net or near-net shape composite components.
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