The CTC is Germany's leading center for research and development in the field of the design and manufacturing of large and complex CFRP components, having an international reputation as experts for specification, production ramp-up, and series production support. The key objective of the activities at the CTC is the development of series production technologies for the production and assembly of CFRP components for aircraft construction. This objective is approached from four directions:
Fiber-optimized Product Design
To exploit the true potential of fiber composites, the product design must be aligned with the requirements for the material and its properties. Also, the product design must be adapted to allow for economical series production.
The origins of the CTC lie in the development of technologies for the automated processing of CFRP. Not only have we mastered the conventional technologies, we also contributed to the development, customization, and achievement of airworthiness of many of them.
Efficient Production Systems
The decision of whether a component made from CFRP will be integrated in a series product is ultimately dependent on the price and performance involved. The development of efficient and automated manufacturing and assembly technologies for a stable series production process is thus the key to the market.
Production Competence in Aeronautical Quality
The CTC cooperates with a multitude of partners from very different areas to stay on top of the development and constantly bring forth new ideas. This applies not only to aircraft manufacturing but wherever aeronautical quality levels are required.
Our production team coordinates, manufactures, and documents components based on the highest standards. From manual prepreg lay-up to dry fiber preforms and highly complex infusion based major assemblies – we will accept any challenge. Over 12 years of experience in the aviation industry, a team of proven experts, satisfied customers, and first-rate components speak for themselves.
CTC GmbH is a 100% Airbus subsidiary. The safeguarding of Airbus Operations GmbH interests is ensured by two partner representatives.
Prof. Dr. Axel Herrmann and Kai Arndt form the board of management. Their work is not exclusively focused on the CTC, but forms an extension of their management activities within Airbus Group.
The employees are also allocated specialist areas, industries, or processes - depending on their interests - where they build select expertise. This way, we ensure that we are always up to date in each field.
The first vertical tailplane made from CFRP is delivered by the Airbus plant at Stade. The foundation for the success story has now been laid.
30 MARCH 2001
The R&T organization of the site is converted to a separate company, CTC GmbH. This CTC then becomes a 100% subsidiary of Airbus Operations GmbH. A team consisting initially of 7 employees begins creating innovations for CFRP applications inside the old fire brigade building on the plant premises.
The Stade Technology Center is built. The building provides a networking platform with the CTC as the main tenant and user and many interesting partners such as Fraunhofer, DLR, Airbus Group Innovations, Cytex, and many more.
Airbus decides to build the A350 XWB as the successor to the A330 from CFRP. The experts from Stade are facing great expectations. The CTC is on a growth course and supplies numerous innovations for the production of the new flag ship, which spans all of Europe. In parallel, the production of test components for the A350 is expanded.
The first A350 wing shell is manufactured at Stade, a major moment for the site, which has almost doubled its premises to accommodate the A350. The production launch, however, also means that the research activities are reduced. The CTC focuses its work increasingly on the production ramp-up and operational efficiency of series production systems.
The CTC's neighbors have grown to include the Private University of Applied Sciences PFH Göttingen, the Airbus Stade training workshop, the CFK Nord research center, and the CFK Valley headquarters. The CTC positioned itself in line with the requirements of the market and focuses on the topics development, serialization, and production of fiber composites. It is among the leading centers, enjoys international appreciation, and generates the highest number of patents per capita within Airbus Group.
Cincinnati Viper 1200
Linear-axis based robot with seven axes of motion made by Cincinnati Machine for prepreg and thermoplastic material lay-up on double curved surfaces measuring up to 8 x 1.6 meters.
This experimental system processes a dry fiber tow roving to produce a preform. Goal is to develop a low-cost alternative to the prepreg tape laying process using this technology.
The hydraulic heatable press tool with 250t of pressing force can be used e.g. in combination with the RTM process. The working area measures max. 2.5 x 1.5 meters with a stroke height of 1 meter.
The PRTM system can be used to manufacture sections with various cross-sections and defined layer structures in a continuous process using pultrusion. What makes this system special is that complex layer structures can be produced both with prepreg and NCF thanks to the integrated press tool.
This experimental system disposes of three separate preforming zones located above one another, which can produce continuous preforms with C-, Z-, or L-shaped cross-sections. The curvature of the preforms can be adjusted during operation between 2 m (e.g. for frames) and straight (e.g. for stringers) so that varying sections can be produced. The preforming zones can be combined or operated individually.
The circulating air oven with an output of 108 kW is used in conjunction with the production of CFRP components as a temperature control chamber. The heating cycles can be programmed individually with up to 10 temperature measuring points; an integrated feature is the data interface to the computer / infusion systems.
Other characteristics of the circulating air oven: temperature: max. 300 °C with gradual adjustment, precision +/-5 °C, work zone: 2000 x 2000 x 3500 mm.
The CTC currently uses five systems for injection and infusion processes employing one-component and two-component resin systems. One of these systems is the Tartler two-component system: the components can be heated to 120 degrees before dynamically mixing them. The output volume can be adjusted variably to 10 to 500g per minute; all process parameters can be controlled and monitored remotely.
The HP-RTM system makes it possible to use highly reactive resin systems and adapted dosing and tooling technologies to drastically reduce the processing times and manufacturing costs for CFRP structures. Resin, hardener, and integrated separating agents are mixed at a pressure of max. 120 bar and are then injected in the heated tool. The CTC's objective is to further develop the process in line with the requirements of the aviation industry.
On the NC cutter, flat semi-finished products can be cut to size with a computer-controlled optimized process to minimize scrap.
The Brillant 285 NC wet abrasive cut-off saw is used for cutting CFRP components to size with high precision. The cutting work space measures 550 x 370 x 550 mm. Larger components with dimensions up to several meters can be cut to size on the Altendorf sliding table saw.
The Sauer repair robot can implement automated scarfing applications in fiber composites. The system is based around a milling spindle and a laser scanner for referencing. The light-weight construction frame also houses the dust extraction system. With a target weight of 80 kg and a work envelope of 500 x 500 x 200 mm, the robot is designed for mobile repairs or rework applications.
In Stade, Airbus has been manufacturing composite components since 1983; in 1996, the site with its roughly 1,800 employees became a composite-only plant. Today, it produces all vertical tails, but also the rear pressure bulkhead for the A380, wing shells for the A400M and the A350 XWB, as well as fuselage shells for the A350 XWB. The CFK Valley network has evolved from the immediate surroundings of the site to become a global player.
Over the past few decades, the Airbus plant at Stade has developed a strong network. The CTC coordinates its activities closely with all of its partners to develop pioneering new technologies.
The Technology Center, which houses the CTC, opened its doors in 2004. Within a relatively short amount of time, a second service center followed, then the Private University of Applied Sciences PFH Göttingen, and next door, a new training workshop for the Airbus plant. In the fall, the CFK Nord complex was opened, which focuses on research of large complex CFRP components and houses the DLR and Fraunhofer IFAM in its core facilities, but also accommodates other important partners such as DOW, Airbus Group Innovations, Premium Aerotec, and others.
The systematic partner architecture on site makes it possible to offer solutions following the value creation chain end-to-end.
The activities of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) focus on manufacturing complex and large fiber composite parts. The DLR is also in charge of operating the largest research autoclave in the world, "BALU".
Customers from all industries benefit from the research and development opportunities offered by the site, Airbus above all others.
End-of-life considerations have become an integral part of material-oriented research. Germany's largest recycling facility for carbon fibers based on the pyrolysis process is located only 20 minutes away from Stade by car and has a capacity of 1,500 t per year.