ACT’s experience in high-strength composites led to us being asked to design, develop and manufacture a lightweight aircraft galley trolley for Flightweight Ltd., marking ACT’s entry into the aerospace interiors sector.
Key customer requirements for the SmartCart
- Lightweight & Sustainable – for fuel savings, CO2 reduction and an ‘eco-USP’
- High security – to counter theft and improve airline safety – innovative electronic lock
- Traceability – also through the lock (previously galley cart location was largely unknown)
Based on customer input requirements from our client Flightweight Ltd., ACT designed a cart where the panels are made from an innovative bio-composite, specially formulated for this project – very strong, very lightweight, with ultra-low embodied energy and made from agricultural waste – i.e. a strong ‘green’ USP. We believe this is the first time a bio-composite has been used in aircraft interiors, after the ‘FibriRock’ panel material passed all EASA tests for fire, smoke and toxicity, as well as the specific crashworthiness tests where the panels moulded at ACTs facility must pass stringent strength testing.
ACT’s modular design is a first for the galley cart industry – it is now easy to replace damaged panels and other parts.
The ‘FibriRock’ bio-composite panels are constructed from two pre-preg skins of non-woven flax fibres, sugar resin and woven basalt fibres for added strength. ACT then compression mould these into finished panels with a paper honeycomb core, in this application the honeycomb has a ‘Nomex™’ fireproof coating. This material is very suitable for underground rail interiors, or trains that pass through longer tunnels. Variations of this panel material are also very suitable for automotive and overground rail, for example by removing some of the aerospace-specific coatings and the basalt fibres.
In this sector, detailed traceability of all raw material is a must and to facilitate this ACT has installed a computer-controlled ‘no-fault-forward’ assembly facility, where component scanning at every stage ensures that the finished cart has a single bar-code containing details of all batches of all the raw materials used in its manufacture. This approach surpasses the rigorous requirements of the aerospace sector and has been approved by EASA
The SmartCart is already a multi-award-winning product. For our part, ACT is proud to have won the EEF’s ‘smart product of the year’ award for the design, development and manufacture of this exciting new product. Also, our customer won the ‘best newcomer’ award at the prestigious Hamburg Aircraft Interiors Expo and our supplier of pre-pregs, EcoTechnilin Ltd. won an innovation award at the renowned JEC composites show in Paris.
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