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#TPRCpartners: Aviacomp

TPRC is launching a new series this spring: #TPRCpartners. After sharing a whole range of experiences of our own colleagues in #TPRCminds, we are now shining the spotlight on our partners. After all, they are the ones who implement our knowledge and expertise in their daily work. How do they do that? How do they apply different techniques around thermoplastic composites? And above all: how do they experience their role within the TPRC consortium?

Read their unique stories in #TPRCpartners.

There aren’t many specialist suppliers who apply a range of techniques when producing a single component made of thermoplastic composite. But Aviacomp is one of them. We asked this French TPRC partner about their experiences as part of our consortium.

Sebastien Cochais, Aviacomp’s technical and industrial director, characterizes his company’s approach as ‘a way of working you would expect to find at a startup.’ Sebastien explains: ‘We are relatively small scale, which makes us very flexible. That’s exactly why we succeed in using techniques such as welding, injection overmoulding and stamp forming to produce one and the same product. That product is a fuel tank access door panel, made entirely of thermoplastic composite. This makes us a key supplier to the aviation industry. I made the switch from Sogeclair Design Office to Aviacomp six years ago. We employed about fifty people. Since then, our workforce has almost doubled. We are growing in a niche market, and part of that growth is supported by network and expertise within TPRC.’

Aviacomp joined TPRC about two years ago. How did that come about?
‘We had a growing desire to consolidate our position by looking beyond France and strengthening our ties with the world of scientific research. We found out about the TPRC consortium through Alex Rubin of Boeing. During the same period, I met up with Sebastiaan Wijskamp at JEC World in Paris, the world’s leading composites event. He is the technical director of TPRC. I was immediately struck by the level of expertise they had to offer, but I was still unsure about whether TPRC could help smaller organizations, not just major players like Airbus or Boeing. That turned out to be the case. Within our management team, we soon agreed: this is what Aviacomp needs. The rest is history.’

"TPRC is a unique source of expert knowledge."

Sebastien Cochais - Aviacomp

What benefits does membership of the TPRC consortium bring you?
‘There are two main aspects. The first is a vast network of technical partners. As a smaller company, that’s not something you can put in place in the short term. Membership gives us the chance to coordinate our activities both with other suppliers and with potential customers. We wanted to raise our customer profile and TPRC is a real help in that area too. Secondly, of course, TPRC is a unique source of expert knowledge. Among the best in the world. Its expertise in techniques such as stamp forming, induction welding and overmolding is extraordinary. If we want to deploy a particular technique, we start by obtaining feedback on the maturity of the technique and its potential for us.

As a smaller organization, we can’t afford to start from scratch and try out a whole host of options for ourselves. Aviacomp makes relatively small parts but with a lot of complex features, and that kind of products is our roadmap. We want to secure our leading position in Fuel Tank Access Cover, but also to grow our market in the aerospace industry. With this in mind, the link with TPRC is essential.’

Pressure Relieve Valve A220 Inner Panel ©Aviacomp

Pressure Relieve Valve A220 Inner Panel

What would you say to other organizations that are thinking of joining the TPRC consortium?
‘Do it! In fact, I’ve already made that same recommendation to other companies in our field. As a thermoplastic composite specialized company, we are still competing with metal and thermoset composite manufacturers. We have a common goal in encouraging the broader adaptation and deployment of thermoplastic composites. The potential market remains huge, especially in aviation. We are competitors, but we also need to work together. TPRC provides us with knowledge at a pre-competitive level. It’s important to realize that. From that stage on, any member of the consortium can pick it up and run with it.’

What are your hopes for this year?
‘Well, first of all, I hope that we’ll be able to meet up more as partners in the same space. TPRC organizes Technical Advisory Board (TAB) meetings twice a year. A ‘real-life’ TAB was scheduled this spring and it was great to be part of it. The atmosphere in TPRC is very positive and for some time now I’ve been impressed by the knowledge shown by their researchers and students. That’s something I hope to experience at first hand again soon.’

A350XWB Inner Panel ©Aviacomp

A350XWB Inner Panel

About Aviacomp and TPRC
Aviacomp, based in Toulouse, France, has been a TPRC Tier 2 member since 2019. It is a leading company in thermoplastic composites with high added value and innovative processes. Their Thermoplastics Fuel Tank Access Panels are used on major Aircraft Program. Aviacomp is a major actor in the research and development of these materials, technologies and their applications. As thermoplastic materials pave the way for high-rate, cost-efficient and sustainable production processes, Aviacomp joined the TPRC to make use of its know-how and develop international research and technology partnerships, from upstream to applied research and product development. Through TPRC membership, Aviacomp is enhancing its position to support its customers for the technological revolution of future aircraft programs.

More info can be found at sogeclair.com/aviacomp/

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Membership benefits

Being a member of the TPRC will give you:

  • Access to our expert network with 30+ years of experience
  • Access to all the research generated in the field of thermoplastic composites
  • Access to our state-of-the-art laboratory
  • Full or partial voting rights (depending on the type of membership)
  • In addition to memberships, TPRC also works on bilateral and multilateral projects

Is your organization interested in becoming involved with thermoplastic composites?