Safran has announced that the company expects to quadruple its carbon composites activity within the next five years.
Currently composite manufacturing represents around 2% of the company’s revenue, this is expected to rise to 8% by 2020 and over 15% in the long term, CEO Jean-Paul Herteman said, at the opening of a 50 million-euro research plant on Tuesday.
Safran is working with their main engine partner, GE to make 3D composite woven fan blades and casings for the new LEAP engine for 2016. With orders for the LEAP and CFM56 totalling over 11,000, CFM International’s total backlog as of March 31, 2014 represented almost six years’ production, and in order to meet this challenge the company will ramp-up production, aiming to produce 1,500 engines per year.
The Group has anticipated this ramp-up, adapting its internal organisation and securing its supply chain. Production processes have been optimised and synergies between Group companies have been systematically sought out and implemented. In addition, major industrial investments have been made, In cooperation with partners Albany International, the company have created two plants dedicated to manufacturing the 3D woven RTM2 composite parts used in this engine: one in Rochester, United States, the other in Commercy, France.
This week Safran inaugurated its new composite materials research centre at the Le Bouchet site in Itteville (Essone, greater Paris area), the company is investing some 50 million euros in this new facility, which spans 10,000 square metres. It will ultimately be staffed by 150 recognised specialists in composite materials, including technicians, engineers and doctoral scientists, who will deploy state-of-the-art machinery and equipment for all phases in the development cycle, from research to prototyping.
This dedicated new research centre will enable Safran to continue to grow the scope of application and performance of composite materials. Combining light weight with high strength and temperature resistance, advanced composites will help meet the pressing challenge of producing aircraft with reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Chairman and CEO of Safran, Jean-Paul Herteman said;
Safran Composites is the tangible result of an industrial strategy anchored in technological innovation, and reflects our strong position within the French business and science communities. By integrating our skills and expertise, we will bolster our technological and competitive leadership in the global marketplace.
The Le Bouchet site is already home to facilities for two Group companies: Herakles, which operates an energetic materials research centre, and Structil, the Herakles subsidiary specialised in composite materials. The installation of Safran Composites will expand the capabilities of the Le Bouchet site by fostering cross-disciplinary exchanges and synergies with the engineers and technicians already working in the existing facilities.