Turkish developers provide Boeing with lighting strike protection technology

Published 11.12.2018 00:00
Updated 11.12.2018 08:00

The Composite Technologies Center of Excellence (KTMM) in Teknopark Istanbul, a successful example of the university-industry collaboration in Turkey, has recently come to the fore with its new inventions.

Sabancı Holding's subsidiary Kordsa and Sabancı University are bringing their ideas together at KTMM, which operates in the field of advanced composite technologies integrated with nanotechnology that led to the transformation in an assortment of sectors from aviation to automotive.

With a structure six times lighter and eight times more durable than steel, composite materials are now being developed at this center. The bodies and wings of many new aircraft are using this material. In fact, 50 percent of Boeing 787 Dreamliner's body is made of this particular technology, and 5 percent of this material is now supplied with the production of Turkish capital.

The lightning strike protection technology comes from the minds of Turkish developers, according to a report by the Habertürk newspaper.

Sabancı Holding Industry Group President Cenk Alper stated that the center became operational in 2016 with an investment of $30 million, exceeding the $40 million threshold so far.

Informing that KTMM has three indispensable elements, namely industry 4.0, innovation and proximity to information, and culture of co-working, Alper said it has a closed area of 15,000 square meters, as well as a lab and production area of 3,500 square meters.

He said the KTMM employs 13 professors, 40 engineers and 50 PhD candidates, adding that it also has an advisory board including representatives from different universities and companies from all around the world.

"The composite firms we acquired in the United States hold an important place in Boeing's supply chain," he said. "The aircrafts get lighter almost by half due to composite material. Some 50 percent of Boeing's recent aircraft Dreamliner was manufactured with this composite material. We have become one of the companies providing composite material to this plane. We are also Boeing's sole supplier in lightning strike protection material."

Kordsa CEO Ali Çalışkan also gave information about the initial results of the products developed in the center. "We achieved a growth rate of 10 percent in the field of composite materials with a turnover of $3.5 million obtained from composite production in the Composite Technologies Center of Excellence," Çalışkan said, highlighting that their companies in the U.S. will generate an additional turnover of $40-45 million in the second half of 2018.

With regards to Kordsa's activities, Ali Çalışkan noted that one of every three automobile tires used in the world has Kordsa's reinforcement material, while two of every three aircraft tires are also processed by Kordsa.

"In 2018, our total investment figure, together with modernization investments, reached $160 million. $100 million of this is related to our composite acquisitions and other investments. We spent $60 million on modernization and expansion projects. Kordsa has 179 inventions," he said.

So what are the current states on the performance of the companies Sabancı purchased in the U.S.? Çalışkan pointed out that they achieved $100 million in U.S. purchases with two plants in Boeing's supply chain that produce high-tech products such as carbon-fiber weaving and ceramic weaving in Philadelphia and California.

"About 120 people work in our company located in Philadelphia," Çalışkan continued. "Currently 60-65 percent of our production is going to Boeing. For Boeing, especially lightning strike protection fabric is a very technological material, and we are Boeing's sole supplier in this field."

Çalışkan recalled that about a month ago they acquired a small company that produces materials for the interior of the plane, underlining the critical importance of its technology.

"The company making honeycomb production is located near Los Angeles. The honeycomb structure is covered with composite materials and we manufacture sandwich panels with them. They are also used in the interior of the aircraft," he concluded.

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