” Boost impregnation & consolidation for optimized structures “

The competence center for composite materials & processes meets the challenges of industrial competitiveness to develop lighter aeronautical and spatial structures that are both resistant and multifunctional by using high performance composite materials. It focuses on the development of materials from thermostable organic matrices (PEEK, PEKK, PAEK, high temperature polymers), thermoplastics or thermosets, and from ceramic matrices (aluminum oxide Al2O3, silicon carbide SiC) resistant at very high temperatures.

The applications targeted are the critical mechanical structures of aircraft, launchers, satellites and motors whose reliability has to be guaranteed in all circumstances.

The competence center designs, develops and operates on a semi-industrial scale. Going beyond the technological error testing approach often found in industry, the competence center develops modeling tools for materials and processes to understand the influence of setting parameters of development means on the micro-structure and properties of materials.

It develops the skills of technicians, engineers and PhDs, and trains PhD students for careers in the formulation and the implementation of new generation high-performance composites.

R&T Fields

The functionalization (electrical conductivity, damping, structural health monitoring) of composite materials is a major scientific and technological challenge to exploit the performance of these much-researched materials.

The research deals with:

  • the formulation and the deposition of sizing adapted to thermoplastic matrices
  • the formulation of high temperature heat hardened prepregs[1] and thermoplastics
  • the integration of electrically conductive particles
  • the introduction of piezoelectric charges in the polymer films (vibration damping)
  • the integration of sensors for structural health monitoring or electrical power conductors[2]

[1] A prepreg is a half-finished product formed of a matrix impregnating a reinforcement that ensure high breaking strength. The matrix may be thermoset or thermoplastic resins impregnated with reinforcement fibers (glass fibers, fabric, carbon fibers) This highly charged composite is earmarked for hot molding under pressure to manufacture a finished product. In the case of CMC the matrix is a ceramic powder the reinforcement in ceramic or carbon fibers). This composite highly charged in ceramic particles of low gran size is then consolidated at high temperature to manufacture a finished product.

[2] Structural health monitoring

Very large savings can be expected by abandoning the consolidation in autoclaves. Prepregs must be adapted to these new environments. Research is focused on understanding the relations between the micro-structure and the prepreg, the evacuation capacity of porosities through the different stages and the final properties of the laminates. The micro-structure of thermoplastic prepregs are optimized experimentally and by modeling of critical stages in the elaboration process. The final objective is to define the optimized thermoplastic tapes micro-structure for a given final consolidation process and have the industrial capacity to produce it.
How well thermoplastics can be welded is a major source of increased competitiveness during the assembly process. This is why IRT Saint Exupéry studies continuous and static direct welding processes of stratified materials to unidirectional carbon fibers. This process uses strong multi-physical coupling between magnetic, electrical, thermal, physical and mechanical aspects. Based on a simultaneous approach of test-modeling, the understanding of these interactions is primordial to take the technology to the maturity level required for future generation single-aisle aircraft.
Simulation tools will reduce the development and qualification time. Research is aimed at identifying the physical behavioral laws of materials (polymerization, crystallization) so as to optimize development cycles and appraise the properties of functionalized materials. It focuses on the modelling of the elaboration process of thermoplastic bands, the critical stage of which is the filtration in aqueous suspension and that of the fusion-impregnation in infrared furnace. The modelling of the induction welding process is also studied. Finally, the objective is to predict the behavior in test pieces of increasing complexity using data from materials (variability, statistic dispersion).
The objective is to support the development of carbide and oxide ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) as well as the maturing of processes to produce internal or exhaust parts for aircraft engines (large scale production at low cost). Research on SiC CMC is focused on the processes of texture treatment, slurry injection and siliconizing, as well as bringing to maturity the appropriate testing technologies. The research on oxide-oxide CMCs aims to show the feasibility of dry or wet impregnation of an oxide thread compatible with automated fiber placement.


Head of Composite Materials & Processes Competence Center
Toulouse Site



  • State-of-the-art, technical synthesis, technological and scientific watch
  • Specific technological platforms
  • Demonstration specimens (lightening impacts, damping structures, reinforced welded panels)
  • Know-how on ways of formulating materials and innovative elaboration
  • Semi-finished products
  • Databases on materials and behavior models
  • Contribution to technology readiness level