SABIC recently showcased various material solutions for aircraft interiors that it believes can help airlines to reduce weight, differentiate their brands, minimize costs, and enhance their customers’ flying experiences. Chief among these offerings is a new decorative sheet material to help customize the inside of planes and a 3D-printed economy class aircraft seat.
The clarity and compliance limitations of traditional transparent materials are two factors that often restrict aircraft interior designers, according to SABIC. A new clear polycarbonate material from the supplier’s Polymershapes business, called Jet Panel sheet, reportedly offers designers more flexibility with a variety of custom colors, textures, and the ability to embed natural materials such as plant fibers to create unique interior elements, such as dividers, security partitions, oversized interior windows, and back-lit signs.
The new sheet delivers 80% light transmission at 2-mm thickness. Based on SABIC’s Lexan XHR2000 sheet, Jet Panel is the first fully customizable and fully transparent material that complies with FST (flame, smoke, and toxicity) regulations such as FAR25.853, BSS7239 and ABD0031, and OSU 65/65 heat release requirements, as well as OEM specifications, the company claims.
Jet Panel sheet was in development for approximately 18 months, which took place in the U.S. and Europe. Challenges included working on a variety of designs that would meet regulatory requirements in final form and on a lot-to-lot basis, according to a company spokesperson.
Available exclusively through Polymershapes, Jet Panel is offered in minimum order quantities as low as one sheet.
“Our approach to the market employs use of a sample kit showing a number of designs ready for use. As the ability to customize is one of the key attributes of Jet Panel sheet, we believe end-users and the aerospace design community will drive further customization for these panel designs to fit an overall branding strategy for their respective airlines,” the spokesperson added.
SABIC’s other innovation, a prototype 3D-printed economy class seat, capitalizes on the growing trend to create 3D-printed components or systems that promise reductions in assembly time, part counts, and weight.
“3D printing is already in use by suppliers to the aerospace industry, as it has demonstrated its value in quickly creating low volume, highly complex shapes for air ducts, fluid handling, and other components within a plane’s hidden spaces,” said the spokesperson. “Using 3D printing allows for rapid prototyping and production, without the time or expense typically required for tooling.”
The company licensed the Studio Gavari design for a sleek and ergonomically advanced seat. By doing so, it hopes “to inspire seating tiers to take a fresh look at seat design and fabrication.”
“It is not a flyable seat, but it was fabricated using filament made from SABIC’s Ultem 9085 resin, which is an aircraft-compliant thermoplastic material,” the spokesperson noted. “The seat also shows the potential for part consolidation.”
Use of 3D printing resulted in a seat with less than 15 components, compared to traditionally fabricated seats that can contain upwards of 150 separate parts.
Ultem 9085 resin is “highly compatible” with 3D printing, according to SABIC, and meets aircraft industry and OEM-specific heat release and FST requirements.