At April 4, 2018, the final results of the government-sponsored TAPAS2 project (2014 – 2017) were presented to the Ministry of Economic affairs. Within TAPAS2, 11 Dutch companies and knowledge institutes (GKN Fokker, TenCate, KvE Composites, Airborne, Technobis, NLR, Delft University of Technology, Tu Twente, KE-works and Codet) worked together to provide the thermoplastic roadmap together with Airbus.
The efforts of Dutch industry and knowledge institutes were initially focused on the development and realization of a thermoplastic technology roadmap. Secondly, a connection with an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) was explored so that the technology development could actually lead to the application of a product on a flying platform. Until now this has resulted in the application of fixed leading edges on the Airbus A340 + A380, and tailpieces for various Gulfstream business jets based on TenCate Cetex® thermoplastic composite. TenCate also supplies this thermoplastic composite for the approximately 8000 clips that hold the A350 body together, A320 pylon cladding and engine inlet cladding for various Airbus platforms (air inlet).
The aim of TAPAS2 was to develop technologies and demonstration products so that the Dutch parties could position themselves for future Airbus programs and any other platforms. The development of thermoplastics within the framework of TAPAS2 focused mainly on fuselage parts (fuselage) besides engine suspension (pylon) and torsion boxes (torsion boxes). The TAPAS2 project has demonstrated, among other things, that a 30% reduction in weight and constant costs with respect to aluminum is possible in the future production of hull scales based on so-called advanced thermoplastics with an integral grid stiffening and welded trusses.
In addition, foreign parties such as Gulfstream and Dassault are interested in the thermoplastic technology developed by the Netherlands, which makes applications outside of Airbus possible. The TAPAS2 project results have been reported in a final report that was submitted to the Ministry of Economic affairs in March 2018.
In addition to the manufacturability and applicability, attention has also been paid to the repairability of thermoplastics, although the latter has not yet been developed in-field. TAPAS2 has contributed to the development of new technologies at all partners, including new production technologies at GKN-Fokker, DTC, Airborne, and NLR, and design technologies at TU Delft, TU-Twente, GKN-Fokker, NLR, and KE- works.