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The aim of the project is to design and develop modular composite transition components into a connector assembly that will provide protection of the wiring harness when positioned in the wings of an aircraft.

Several different sizes and shapes of transition components were required to suit the number of different size harnesses pass through the wings of the aircraft and with this in mind, the weight of each component size would be a critical factor in the design as this would affect the overall weight of the aircraft and fuel capacity.

There were many design issues that required resolving from a functional perspective and from a material standpoint.

The hazardous environment which an aircraft operates in, required that the assembly must withstand many environmental issues:

  • High and low temperature fluctuations
  • The assembly must have a resistance to vibration i.e. threads must not unscrew
  • Good sealing to prevent ingress from salt and sand
  • The ability to withstand the aggressive aviation chemicals i.e. Skydrol

Other issues that were required were of the assembly were:

  • To be strong but lightweight so not affect the weight of the plane
  • Easily manufactured and assembled on production lines

Taking the initial concept, we were able develop a number of part and assembly configurations of the components using the Design Tables within SolidWorks. Using SolidWorks Simulation, we were then able to develop a working assembly that was able to pass the stringent design criteria.

With the design stage complete, we were able to generate a range of prototypes that would be used for physical testing phase. The material selection was very important, therefore polymers such as “Peek” and “Ultem” materials were chosen for their resistance to heat and chemicals. This ensured that the selected chosen materials would meet the design criteria and the correct methodology for manufacture could be chosen.

For the final design, a combination of injection moulding and CNC machining techniques was chosen. This was based on creating near-net-shapes and reducing the number of critical features of the finished components.