19 May 2022

Innovation centre for developing future composite aerostructures

Daher is laying the cornerstone for the Shap’In innovation centre that will develop its composite aerostructures of the future.

Daher’s new 1,600m² Shap’In TechCenter will bring together a full spectrum of aerostructures and composites expertise in a single facility to be located on Daher’s existing site at Saint-Aignan-de-Grandlieu in the Jules Verne industrial innovation cluster near Nantes, France. It is adjacent to the specialised production plant for thermoplastic aerospace components – which is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the aerospace industry. Operational startup is planned in October 2022.

This €7.5-million project is supported by €800,000 in funding from the French Aerospace Industry Modernisation Fund, and will respond to technical, economic and environmental challenges faced by the industry – while also training young talent. Shap’in will employ 160 people, half of whom will work on research and development projects.

Advanced composites in general – and thermoplastics in particular – are game changers in the world of aerostructures because they enable the production of components that are simultaneously lighter and stronger than the materials previously used, and at a lower cost. Another major advantage is that they can be recycled/repurposed as part of a circular economy. The resulting performance gains are therefore significant and help limit aviation’s environmental impact.

The Shap’In TechCenter’s key purpose is to drive Daher’s consolidation of its leadership in aerostructure technologies, which is key to the aerospace industry’s success in meeting the twin challenges of competitiveness and reduced environmental impact.

This combination of innovation centre and production plant brings together an unique set of skills and resources that will accelerate innovation in aerostructures and the methods and processes used to manufacture them. Shap’In will capitalise on the technological advances made by Daher in the design and production of aircraft wings, tails and engines by enabling designs to be put into production faster and with greater agility, thereby shortening the lead time to product maturity.

“We are extremely proud to see this project come to fruition; a process that has accelerated significantly in recent months thanks to the support we have received from the France Relance national recovery plan,” said Daher CEO Didier Kayat at the cornerstone unveiling ceremony. “Together with Log’In, our future logistics acceleration platform at Toulouse; and Fly’In, the Tarbes innovation centre dedicated to the forward development of our aircraft product range; Shap’In will considerably extend our ability to develop disruptive technologies and their production processes, while also ensuring our status as a key player in tomorrow’s low-carbon aviation sector.”

The Nantes technology hub boasts a very rich and diverse local R&D network (including the IRT Jules Vernes R&D institute for advanced manufacturing technologies, the EMC2 competitiveness cluster, etc.) in which Daher already is heavily involved.

The Nantes region overall is recognized in the aerospace industry for its expertise in advanced composites, and its ability to respond effectively to tomorrow’s aerospace challenges, which include the recycling of material offcuts.

Company info: Daher