Thermoplastic Alloy Sheet Gives Aircraft Window Shades
a Lift in Performance
WARRENDALE, PA Magee Plastics Company has manufactured airline window shades for more than 40 years, and supplies all major U.S. airlines and many European airlines, as well as distributors worldwide.
Magee Plastics Company specifies Boltaron 9250C thermoplastic alloy sheet for vacuum forming of aircraft window shades incorporated into window assemblies.
Most airline window shades that Magee Plastics fabricates, such as these for the Boeing 737 (left) and Airbus, are for aftermarket applications. The company utilizes Boltaron 9250C proprietary thermoplastic alloy sheet to meet performance and cost requirements.
Magee also compression molds sidewall panels of honeycomb composites and prepregs, such as this example for the Boeing 757.
Magee injection molds window components into which thermoformed shades are installed.
In addition to regulating the amount of light entering airline cabins, window shades must exhibit extreme durability, minimize weight, withstand thousands of use cycles, conform to stringent FAA fire ratings, and meet the competitive pricing requirements of cost-conscious airlines.
It is difficult to develop shades with these properties, according to Magee Plastics. The company starts by utilizing a proprietary, double-color, thermoplastic sheet developed specifically for the application, called Boltaron 9250C.
Produced by Boltaron of Newcomerstown, OH, the sheet exhibits high opacity in bright light conditions, and high resistance to impact, abrasion, staining and harsh cleansers. It also meets FAA regulations for flammability, and is intended for thermoforming and related processes, which, in Magee's case, includes vacuum forming.
Magee applies the sheet for various window shades destined for new aircraft and aftermarket shades.
Sheet grade is application specific
The shades Magee vacuum forms of 9250C sheet have a gray backing on the outer layer to maximize their light-blocking property, while the interior layer is a different color that matches the cabin decor. Most of the interior colors specified are Boeing-equivalent shades white, pearl and shades of gray that match the original window shade colors on new passenger jets. Only one percent of the aftermarket shades Magee produces require custom colors.
The shades are 21 in. (53.3 cm) long, 12 in. (30.4 cm) wide and 0.050 in. (1.27 mm) thick. The company cuts blanks for the shades from 9250C sheet and fabricates them in a specially configured process.
Technical support enhances properties
The engineering staffs of Magee Plastics Company and Boltaron often collaborate to meet changing requirements. Magee Plastics engineers often provide a 'wish list' of performance needs for Boltaron to fulfill.
One example involved a higher heat resistant version of the 9250C material. Needed was better heat deflection temperature without incurring price increases to achieve it. After consulting with Boltaron's engineers, the sheet supplier was able to reformulate the material and raise its heat deflection temperature to a range of 200-210°F (93.3-98.8°C) from 180-190°F (82.2-87.7°C).
Magee Plastics' philosophy is "to provide customers with the best shade at the lowest price possible."
This philosophy serves Magee well in aftermarket work. The company estimates that it can be 50% less expensive for airlines to source window shades from Magee during refurbishing of their fleets or replacing interior components than from an OEM. According to Magee, as airlines seek to reduce the cost of high-use items like window shades, competitively priced options are very attractive to them, especially if they are functionally equivalent to the OEM versions.
In addition to the shades, Magee injection molds the window components into which the window shades are installed.
The aftermarket business is good for Magee Plastics. There is strong demand for the window shades that the company fabricates, and a lot of business is underway worldwide as airlines refurbish their planes.
Supplier relationship adds value
According to Magee Plastics Company its success in the aviation market stems from its ability to provide products that meet the specifications and budgets of customers, which hinges on the technical competence and willingness of Magee's key suppliers.
In addition to window shades, Magee thermoforms aircraft window panels and other interior panels of honeycomb and composite prepreg materials. The company also pressure forms, compression molds and injection molds components for aircraft interiors, ground vehicles, rail cars, medical products and industrial equipment.
Boltaron sheet products are offered in gauges from .003 to 3.0 in. (.076 to 76.2 mm) for thermoforming, fabricating, membrane pressing and laminating of components for aircraft interiors, rail/mass transit vehicle interiors, building products, and diverse commercial/industrial applications.
The company is the only producer to offer calendering, extrusion and press laminating of sheet products. Each of these processes produces a range of products having distinct qualities. As importantly, sheet produced using more than one of these processes can be fused in-line or off-line to create a far wider selection of composite sheet products than any single production process can achieve.
Magee Plastics Company