Cobham developed and manufactured lightweight carbon fibre reinforced polymer matrix composite test components for the SAGE 4 Geared Turbofan demonstrator. The components were manufactured from suitable high temperature resistant thermoset resin which is capable of a continuous service temperature of 350°C. Initial working sessions were held to review the candidate components and to develop the draft technical requirement specifications. The composites manufacturing process selection were dependent upon the components to be manufactured. A study was carried out by Cobham to identify the most cost effective manufacturing route which achieves the required performance requirements for the selected components.
Development of the selected manufacturing process was conducted in collaboration with MTU so that key design-for-manufacturing requirements were captured. Demonstrator components were manufactured in accordance with MTU specifications and drawings. Material characterisation data was generated for unaged and thermally aged test coupons in order to validate the composite designs.
Pressure from ACARE and civil aircraft operators is driving the need to continually improve the efficiency of turbofan engines. These improvements in efficiency result in engine designs with both lower weight and higher operating temperatures. This trend opens up opportunities for components made from composite materials which can operate for extended periods at moderately high temperatures (in the region of 300C) to replace heavier and more expensive metallic designs (typically in titanium). The HICOMP programme had the overall objective of developing a component to replace such a titanium part in the compressor of a turbofan engine. The most suitable materials were selected and characterised, and the manufacturing process optimised. Parts were then manufactured and delivered to the Topic Manager for incorporation into a test engine.