The Filament Winding of Titanium Silicon Carbides (TiSiCs) project was proposed by the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP). The GSTP receives funding from the ESA’s Member States on a voluntary basis and provides funding for projects with a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 4 – 6. The goal of the GSTP as stated by ESA is to ensure that “the right technology with the right maturity are available at the right time”. In early 2015, after successfully tendering for the project, TISICS Limited and Thinklaser Limited were jointly awarded €2.5M in research and development funding from the GSTP. The project is aimed at developing a method to wind a TiSiC fibre around a rotating mandrel (a process called filament winding) and securing fibres together to produce sub-scale and in a second phase full scale components for use in the space industry. This method will be capable of producing surfaces that bend in two axes, meaning that more complex components can be produced using titanium silicon carbide composites leading to greater weight saving and, as a result, cost savings.

This project aims to develop light weight silicon carbide fibre reinforced hydraulic actuators for demanding high performance applications in harsh operating environments. The project will focus on aircraft landing gear as this has a both a demanding operating environment and loading rudiments and a requirement for lighter systems and components to reduce CO2 emissions.The output is targeting a 40% lighter hydraulic piston rod and actuator cylinder that is capable of meeting the high pressures and loads required for landing gear as well as the resistance to Skydrol and typical landing gear operating environment such as grit abrasion, runway debris and extremes of temperature. The use of fibre-reinforced titanium will be a potential solution to the need to find alternatives to chrome and cadmium plating systems under REACH. TISICS is aiming to demonstrate the potential for the technology with test data produced by the highly experienced and well-equipped facilities and staff at the AMRC in Sheffield.

Piston Lug Aviation

Feasibility study to scope the development of a robotic arm structure that is modular, and which can be used to assemble large truss structures in-orbit, where parts can be rigidly connected with ease. The Robot arm will be capable of repairing and maintaining these football-pitch-sized structures in-orbit. Combine the technologies brought to the table by LARAD (Lightweight Advanced Robotic Arm Demonstrator) to robotically demonstrate the manufacturing and assembly process of space structures in a laboratory environment. In-space manufacturing/assembly allows for the creation of larger craft, stations, or instruments than can currently be launched. It is central to the future growth of the space industry. Due to this technology less structural mass is needed for conditions at launch, making the space market more accessible to new customers. This is similar to the effect CubeSats have had on the market. The UK, with its increasing experience in autonomy, robotics, and space-related technology is well placed to capitalize on this new area.

Robot Arm Space

The OLIVER project (Optimised laser welding implementation via enabling research) is funded by Innovate UK under “Game Changing Technologies for Aerospace”, proposes to translate ongoing, world-leading research in the laser welding of titanium, into the UK aerospace supply chain; creating the next generation of aerospace manufacturing solutions, and enhancing the cost effectiveness and affordability of advanced titanium assemblies.

The objective of the UltraMAT project is to develop a novel generic technology for materials processing of fluid and semi fluid phases that are widespread in manufacturing e.g. in the welding and adhesive joining of components, the manufacture of bulk composite components, in traditional and PM (HIP). The UltraMAT project is supported by Innovate UK

TISICS has won an Innovate UK grant to support development work to improve the efficiency and output capacity of its SiC monofilament pilot facility, originally established for R&D 30 years ago. A full review of its existing “reactor” design is being conducted and experimental trials will inform re-design of critical zones and future simplification. The benefits of the project are expected to be reduced build time and failures, extended batch duration and therefore increased cost effectiveness and capacity. The project output will keep TISICS and the UK at the forefront of this technology, well placed for material qualification and uptake within the space and aerospace sectors and the potential to be the only large-scale supplier of this class of material outside the US.


This project combines Thinklaser's expertise in laser systems and mechanised product positioning gained over 20 years in the component marking sector and more recently additive layer manufacture, with TISICS' extensive experience in silicon carbide fibre production and metal matrix composites gained since the team started in 1988. A need has been identified for fibre reinforced aluminium composite structures in space, defence and civil aircraft components. The exceptionally high mechanical properties SiC fibre reinforcement imparts to the aluminium has resulted in an Al6061 material with 1200Mpa Tensile Strength and 1600MPa compression strength and 150GPa modulus. This exceeds titanium alloys whilst retaining the density of aluminium. The main components of interest are tubular structures such as pressure vessels and robotic arms for space and defence as wells as ribs and landing gear linkages and other flight actuators for aircraft. However current foil and fibre manufacturing techniques are not suitable and a new composite wire system is required which this project will deliver along with the equipment and processes to mould these target, high value light weight components.

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