Titanium keeps it all together

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Amphenol Titanium HTC round connector

The electronics used in harsh aero engine environments can now benefit from a reduced weight strong connector from Amphenol in titanium.

Visitors to this year’s Farnborough Air Show were able to catch a glimpse of the latest innovation from electronics connector manufacturer, Amphenol. The company has met the aviation electronics challenge of producing a connector product that provides all the strength of a steel component but with a massive 30% saving on weight.

The Amphenol Titanium HTC range of aero-engine connectors are now being supplied within the UK by Astute Electronics. The company has significant expertise and experience of managing military and aviation programmes and supplying its specialist range of connectivity products to this demanding and constantly changing industry.

According to Astute, aircraft engines represent one of the harshest environments for connectors and interconnection systems, something which prevents the use of standard plated aluminium alloy connectors, which can’t withstand such environments. As a result, stainless steel has traditionally been used within the industry as the standard material for connection products. However, whilst stainless steel provides excellent strength and temperature stability, it is significantly heavier than aluminium and this is a major disadvantage in an application where weight is a significant factor.

In order to overcome this issue, Amphenol designed the titanium HTC connectors based on the BS EN2997 aerospace connector standard whilst also meeting the requirements of Rolls-Royce specifications ESC20 and ESC21. The resulting product provides performance which is comparable to the stainless steel alternative but with a weight saving of around 30% on assembled connectors.

Manufacturing goes global

To develop this range of connectors, Amphenol has invested in state-of-the-art turning centres in the UK and has made significant improvements in processing methods and set-ups that have led to major reductions in machining run-times. This expertise has been used to set up a duplicate facility in the company’s AS9100 approved manufacturing centre in India using the same machines, tool sets and programmes with UK trained operators

The connectors are available in shell sizes of 08 to 24 and are already being used on major civil aerospace engine programmes.

Commenting on the latest electronics connection product for harsh environments from Amphenol, Astute Electronics’ E-mech Divisional Manager, Gary Evans said that the titanium manufacturing capability available from Amphenol allows Astute to offer other connector series such as the MIL-DTL-38999 in the same material.

“The new hermetic facility at Amphenol’s Martec military and aerospace manufacturing site in the UK also enables us to supply titanium connectors with hermetic sealing,” said Evans.

Acquired in June this year, Martec is the Amphenol military and aerospace operations design and development centre for hermetics from where further developments in hermetically sealed connectivity products for the aerospace industry will be developed.

With existing accreditation to ISO 9001, AS9100 and IECQ-CECC, the Martec site has a full manufacturing capability including plating, machining, cabling and encapsulation. The expertise that Martec has developed since its formation 30 years ago in new materials technology for harsh environment and high pressure applications will enable Amphenol to apply further innovation to its range of connectors for aero engines.

Data and power connection products from Martec with hermetic sealing have already been developed and are in use on defence programmes such as the Joint Strike Fighter and the NH90 twin-engine multi-role military helicopter as well as civil aviation programmes including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 airliners.

Jonathan Newell
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