This week at JEC World, the preeminent composites event taking place in Paris, the Eurecat technology centre is showcasing an aircraft window which includes LED lights embedded during the manufacturing process using compositronics, a technology which makes it possible to develop functional lightweight structural components with composite materials.

“The lightness of composites and printed electronics means that with compositronics we can significantly reduce the weight of components and large structures and also cut costs in assembly processes by introducing sensors during composite manufacturing,” says Mª Eugenia Rodríguez, head of Technological Development in the Industrial Area at Eurecat.

Specifically, the prototype “consists of a high-performance polymer composite structure which has LEDs inside it to furnish ambient lighting to the cabin while maintaining the structural properties of the composite,” adds Iker Arroyo, head of the In-Mould Electronics Line in the Functional Printing and Embedded Devices Unit at Eurecat.

The aeronautical industry “has taken a keen interest in compositronics in recent years to make aircraft operations more sustainable due to the considerable weight reduction this technology delivers,” he adds.

Composites R&D for sustainability and weight reduction

At JEC World Eurecat is also displaying innovations in sustainability and circular economy, weight reduction and Industry 4.0. They include biocomposites from linen fabrics and bio-based resins for developing sustainable and lightweight parts with applications in sectors such as mobility and sports since they enable a significant reduction in carbon footprints.

These biocomposites “have been developed using a range of manufacturing techniques, steering clear of autoclave and thus reducing high energy usage and shortening manufacturing lead times,” points out Mª Eugenia Rodríguez.

Projects in recycling include developing new composites from recycled carbon fibre and other types of composite waste with thermoplastic and thermosetting matrices.

The technology centre is also presenting at the event demonstrators of thermoplastic and thermosetting composite aerostructures developed with out-of-autoclave technologies, specifically by thermocompression and RTM (resin transfer moulding), in which it has led the integrated development of the process and where sensorised moulds have been designed to monitor the process and determine the optimum manufacturing parameters.