A380 Creep Age Forming & Anodic Surface Treatments

The A380 is the most technologically advanced passenger aircraft in service today with exceptional environmental performance.

This performance can only come about through cutting edge design and the application of advanced manufacturing techniques, such as the Creep Age Forming Process, which involves heating components under pressure in an autoclave. This both improves the material properties of the aircraft components and also gives them their complex shape.

The process requires energy in the form of both gas and electricity: gas is used to heat the autoclave; electricity is primarily used to drive large fans to circulate the air inside the autoclave. In order to achieve optimal material properties there must be fine zonal control of temperature which is achieved through circumferential air flow and a chiller circuit. Because of these tight temperature requirements heat must be rejected from the autoclave to the atmosphere.

As part of the THERM Project Airbus wants to identify the heat and other losses in this process and seek ways in which it can minimise them, acknowledging that some losses will be unavoidable due to process constraints. Thus a key part of THERM for Airbus will be not only to identify the losses themselves, but also to identify other uses for the waste energy within the manufacturing system.

A potential candidate process for receiving waste heat from the creep forming process is the Anodic Surface Treatments Process. This process involves placing components in a series of treatment baths in sequence, resulting in an anodised part. The fluid in each bath must be kept at a certain temperature, which is currently maintained through hot water generated from a gas boiler.

Through THERM Airbus believes it will be able to identify how these processes can ‘share’ energy, thus reducing the overall energy consumption in part manufacture.


Toyota Integrated Environmental Solutions Cranfield University De Montford University Airbus Technology Strategy Board

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