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March 2017

Solvay Torlon PAI Enables Plastics to Mold Tools Safe for Use in Aerospace Applications

Solvay, a leading global supplier of specialty polymers, announced that its high-performance Torlon polyamide-imide (PAI) enabled Performance Plastics Ltd., an advanced injection molder of precision engineered components, to innovate its new line of EnduroSharp™ Scraper Blades for aerospace maintenance applications.


Torlon® PAI enabled these unique new tools to be tough enough to maintain their edge longer than blades molded from competitive polymers, but safe enough to remove challenging materials from delicate surfaces. 


“Designing a scraper blade that is both safe and effective for today’s aircraft is a deceptively simple challenge,” said Tom Mendel, president of Performance Plastics. “Polymers were obviously a safer choice over metal blades, but only Torlon® PAI met all of our criteria without some tradeoff in design, cost, performance or processing. Solvay’s material allowed us to develop a new generation of molded scraping tools that uniquely combined high strength and stiffness, a sharp edge, machinability and strong resistance to heat, wear and chemicals.”


The recently launched Torlon® PAI blade handles and inserts enable aerospace maintenance professionals to safely remove elastomeric coatings, boots, tapes, sealants, adhesives, gap fillers and tape residue from fiber-reinforced composite, plastic, glass, ceramic or metal substrates and fasteners. The PAI blades can also be used in conjunction with heat- or chemical-assisted skiving processes to expedite material removal.


Torlon® PAI combines the exceptional performance of thermoset polyimides with the melt-processing advantage of thermoplastics. While polyetherimide (PEI) and polyetheretherketone (PEEK) were candidates for this application, both materials needed to be machined from molded blanks to give the blade a sharp edge.


 In comparison, Torlon® PAI’s excellent processability allows the blades to deliver a sharp edge right out of the mold – eliminating the time, cost and material waste of machining. Solvay’s material, however, can be machined to permit one-off designs, such as blades that incorporate a gap to scrape around fasteners.


Torlon® PAI’s thermoset-like properties also allows EnduroSharp™ blades to withstand the high heat and friction of resharpening, which can result in a burr on blades fabricated from PEEK and PEI polymers. 


Select grades of Solvay’s Torlon® PAI retain toughness, high strength and high stiffness at temperatures up to 275°C (525°F) and the material’s broad chemical resistance extends to strong acids, most organics and commercial aerospace fluids and solvents.

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