Safran develops a center of expertise in composite materials
What challenges will the newly created Safran Composites Department tackle?
Composite materials are key to the current development of breakthrough technologies aimed at curbing the environmental impact of air transport. The Safran Group has been using composite materials since 1980, especially in nacelle systems. It therefore set up a center of expertise in composite materials with a view to becoming a world leader in the field. The Group is aiming to use composite materials extensively in all its products, including several critical parts of the new LEAP engine. This entity is tasked with the research, design and development of the Group companies' future composite product processes.
What are the objectives and tasks of this new entity?
The new entity's first objective is to help the Safran Group become an industrial world leader in the field of composite materials. To do so, it needs to validate a number of innovative technologies, explore new research avenues, such as "warm" resins which are more resistant to high temperatures, and harness a network of partners (universities, research laboratories, specialized SMEs, etc.). It has many tasks but the major ones involve taking the Group forward in terms of distinctive technologies (3D woven parts, etc.), developing new computation or simulation tools and fine-tuning new basic composites with a view to applying composites to aircraft parts that are subjected to high mechanical and thermal stress (compressors, landing gear, etc.).
What are the characteristics of this new entity?
Nowadays, we no longer transfer one design to another (i.e. metal to composite), we think and design in terms of "composites" instead. A composite is a material whose characteristics are developed during the part manufacturing process which draws on a wide range of expertise (materials chemistry and physics, design and computation, simulation, implementation tools, monitoring systems, etc.). This pooling of skills is a key industrial strategy for this major project.
Another striking feature is the cross-functional Group structure of the industrial organization model. This strategy makes it possible to pool, share and leverage each Safran company's areas of expertise with a view to rolling out new applications. Carbon textures are a good example: they were developed for solid propulsion before being applied to carbon brakes, resulting in a world-wide success story...