Permali: Driving Cost-Effectiveness and Sustainability in Defence

Fraser Rankin, Director of Sales and Marketing, PermaliFraser Rankin, Director of Sales and Marketing
In today’s ever-evolving geopolitical landscape, the demand for safety and defence measures in combat and civilian spaces is at an all-time high. However, the emergence of newer opportunities in the defence space gave rise to more stringent regulations, which started hindering defence contractors from meeting their delivery deadlines for manufacturing equipment. At the same time, to drive the movement toward greener operations, vendors in the industry are also facing issues with designing products that can be manufactured using eco-friendly materials, are lighter, and produce a lower carbon footprint.

Addressing these needs with its ability to offer end-to-end manufacturing capabilities alongside a range of unique, lightweight, and robust composite solutions is England-based Permali. The company’s comprehensive portfolio is backed by its in-house experts from the realms of design, material science, product development, and others, which ensures that all of a client’s needs are always met. And as a way to bridge the gap between the defence market and rising environmental laws, Permali provides a suite of composite materials that comply with the flammability, smoke, and toxic fumes emission regulations. “From design to final product delivery, we are always ready to deliver on the specifications of a client with our comprehensive in-house processing capabilities and team expertise,” says Fraser Rankin, business manager at Permali.

Founded in 1937, Permali was initially a contractor in the high voltage and tooling industry, providing phenolic resin-based high-pressure lamination and coating services. This work with phenolic solutions-built expertise for Permali that it leveraged to penetrate the aerospace market where phenolic resin-based components were being designed and developed for a growing number of applications and are today a mainstay. Over the decades, the company expanded from covering core defence sectors to several commercial and civil market sectors, offering composite solutions and eventually branching into TPU solutions. Today, Permali is a world leader in manufacturing composite materials and bespoke solutions for aerospace, defence, rail, marine, and healthcare arenas. And at the heart of this success is the company’s 10,500 sq. m. factory that boasts next-gen pressing, moulding, assemble, CNC machining facilities and dedicated wings for CAD design, inspection, and R&D.
From a portfolio standpoint, Permali manufactures Permaglass composite materials in the form of laminated sheets, mouldings, and sandwich panels. In terms of processing prowess, the company prides itself in its impregnation capabilities, which has allowed it to produce products for a wide range of applications in multiple markets. “We have invested significant capital in modernizing our impregnation wing to help expand our ability to manufacture better, lighter, and more affordable products,” adds Rankin. Apart from this, Permali’s singlesite processing capabilities include mechanical and flammability testing, CAD/CAM design and manufacturing, rapid prototyping (3D printing), resin mixing, high pressure pressing/ moulding, 5-axis precision machining, mechanical and bonding assembly sections, all backed by an AS9100 Rev D quality accreditation. On the other hand, Permali speciality Prepreg fibre reinforcements, thermoplastics, ceramic plates and coating materials used by Permali for manufacturing integrated Permaglass® composite appliqué amour systems. These protection offerings comprise ballistic-grade UHMWPE fibres, including DSM Dyneema® and Honeywell Spectra Shield®, Kevlar® and Twaron® rubber-coated aramid fibres, woven and non-woven S2, E-glass fibre fabrics and tissues, alumina, silicon and boron carbide ballistic grade ceramic plates, and chemical resistant Tufshield® elastomeric PU coating.

Further discussing the core competencies of his company, Fraser elaborates, “Our mission is to help the defense and aerospace sectors produce lighter and cost-effective products with high longevity.” In pursuit of this, Permali approaches every client engagement with a goal to deliver as lightweight and low-cost a solution as possible. But, the company is flexible in this when it comes to higher threat level component production. For instance, in a project for the development of a helicopter component, Permali will prioritize weight and develop an end-part that showcases the highest strength. Another key facet of Permali’s flexible engagement approach is the ability to offer fair pricing as the company typically offers multiple prototypes with varying weights to choose from: lower the weight, higher the cost, and vice-versa.

With such unmatched capabilities, Permali has ignited several success stories since its inception. A prime example of the company’s proven track record would be the role it played in developing the aircraft cockpit door protection upgrade in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Being an industry giant, Permali had anticipated such a requirement as a result of an incident in December 2000 when a passenger stormed the cockpit of BA Flight 2069 from Gatwick to Nairobi and forced the aircraft into a dive before the crew was able to overcome the intruder and regain control of the aircraft. After September 2001, Permali immediately began working with aircraft manufacturers and airlines on solutions for preventing cockpit intrusion. Subsequently, the company developed a material, branded Permaglass XFS2, which is a lightweight composite armor solution capable of stopping handgun threats, whilst also meeting all aircraft interior flammability standards, including vertical burn, heat release, and smoke & toxic fume emissions. The first airline to respond was Virgin Atlantic Airways who contracted Permali to supply retrofit cockpit door reinforcement for their aircraft in advance of the new regulations being published. This retrofit solution was supplied in October 2001, less than six weeks after the September 11 attacks took place. The company went on to work closely with Airbus and various aircraft interior manufacturers to supply solutions for Airbus, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Embraer and other aircraft, helping to protect thousands of aircraft and millions of passengers worldwide.

Looking ahead, Permali plans to leverage its acquisition by market-leader Diamorph to expand its footprint in the U.S. and Eastern Europe as well as boost innovations in the development of materials capable of delivering costreduction and sustainability.
Share this Article:

Company
Permali

Headquarters
Gloucester, England

Management
Fraser Rankin, Director of Sales and Marketing

Description
UK-based Permali offers Permaglass composite materials in the form of laminated sheets, mouldings and sandwich panels as well as Tuftane polyurethane films and Plasticell foams. Permali manufactures Permaglass composite materials in the form of laminated sheets, mouldings, and sandwich panels. In terms of processing prowess, the company prides itself in its impregnation capabilities, which has allowed it to produce products for a wide range of applications in multiple markets. Apart from this, Permali’s single-site processing capabilities include mechanical and flammability testing, CAD/CAM design and manufacturing, rapid prototyping (3D printing), resin mixing, high pressure ressing/moulding, 5-axis precision machining, mechanical and bonding assembly sections, all backed by an AS9100 Rev D quality accreditation.

Permali

Permali News

New Permali composite flight deck safety systems meet the latest UK MoD fire retardancy standards for Royal Navy vessels

Permali is the global market leader in the design and manufacture of high strength, glass fibre reinforced (GRP) composite stanchions, guardrails, deck safety net frames and ladder systems for naval warships and support vessels. UK MoD fire retardancy (FR) standards have become even more stringent since the first Permali composite stanchions were fitted on the decks of Royal Navy ships more than 30 years ago.
To meet the latest UK MoD regulatory standard to improve naval crew fire protection, Permali’s R & D team has developed Permaglass® XGR2/4, a new specialist FR composite material grade, which provides the next generation naval safety fire performance. Extensive mechanical and fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) testing to the new Defence Standard 07-247 has been carried out to validate the new material’s suitability for the demanding deck safety applications.

Figure 1: Close up shot of fabricated finished painted GRP composite stanchions
New MoD FST Def standard
Defence Standard 07-247 is the latest, more stringent MoD fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) performance standard for naval vessels. Permaglass XGR2/4 achieved the highest overall Category A1 rating possible for this enhanced FST Def standard; critically XGR2/4 fire test coupons achieved Class 1 for surface spread of flames (to BS 467 Part 6) and a fire propagation index (I) of 7.8 (to BS 467 Part 7).
Equally impressive is that Permali’s innovative new Permaglass XGR2/4 resin grade and laminate system achieves this higher FST rating while still easily meeting the demanding mechanical performance requirements of the MoD standard. Permali has been able to do this by combining its proprietary high performance, low VOC thermoset FR resin formulation with woven glass reinforcements. Typical mechanical properties listed by Permali in the published technical data sheet for Permaglass XGR2/4 include a flexural strength of 720 MPa (to BS EN ISO178) and a tensile strength of 600 MPa (to BS 2782 Part 10:Method 1003). [Figure 6. Permaglass XGR2/4 typical mechanical properties table.]

Figure 2: Permali’s safety nets on the runway of HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of two British aircraft carriers
Steve Benn, Permali Technical Manager for composites commented: “The challenge was to achieve the fire performance required by this more demanding MoD FST standard without introducing the mechanical performance loss typically associated with the addition of fire retardant fillers. Working with our customers and the MoD regulatory team, we have managed to develop a technical solution which provides the right balance of properties needed for this next generation of naval stanchions. Permaglass XGR2/4 is now specified for manufacturing all four types of safety systems that Permali supplies for naval vessels”.
Proven naval deck safety systems
The Royal Navy (RN) and other navies around the world specify Permali’s lightweight, high performance GRP products to protect crew personnel and equipment on weather decks, flight decks, and walkways. All deck safety systems developed for Royal Naval vessels are MoD approved and rigorously tested to ensure that they meet specified DNV and Lloyds register regulatory standards.

Figure 3: Permali’s stanchions feature on HMS Arygll, a Type 23 frigate
Current naval vessels in service fitted with Permali supplied deck safety systems include: Visby class corvettes; RN Type 45 destroyers and Type 23 frigates; RFA Bay class support ships; the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, famed for being the biggest, most advanced warships ever built for the Royal Navy. In addition to naval ships, the specialist polar exploration vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough is also fitted with Permali deck safety systems to protect personnel while on the flight deck.

Figure 4: RRS Sir David Attenborough features Permali’s safety net system on it’s flight deck
GRP stanchion benefits
The use of a GRP composite material for stanchions, guardrails and net frames provide key in-service benefits over metallic alternatives, being lightweight, vibration free, corrosion resistant, low maintenance and non-conductive. For warships, a major operational benefit of using Permali’s composite stanchions for both deck safety nets frames and guardrail stanchions is that being non-metallic they produce a significantly reduced radar detection signature.

Figure 5: Permali’s safety net system features on HMS Daring, the first Type 45
Design flexibility
Permali offers a complete range of durable deck or hull mounted modular GRP composite stanchion designs to provide rigid guardrails, PARAFIL® synthetic rope guardrails and safety nets, or removable chains. Four standard stanchion styles are manufactured to accommodate the different types of vessels and deck area safety requirements:
• Type A stanchions (for fixed position guardrails)
• Type B stanchions (can fold fore and aft of the deck)
• Type D stanchions (fold onto the deck)
• Quick Release/Removable stanchions (for access areas)
Stanchion systems are supplied by Permali ‘ready to install’, complete with all the stainless steel deck base fixings, positive lock fittings and lug bolts specified for guardrail and net system designs. All fabricated composite stanchions, rigid guardrails, ‘quick release’ lift off gates and deck safety net frames are finish painted in-house with a two part paint system to the required vessel colours. Lift off gates are installed to provide easy access to specific deck areas for ‘over the side’ Replenishment at Sea (RAS) and to enable unobstructed helicopter maintenance.

Properties Table – Extract from Permali Permaglass XGR2/4 technical data sheet
Bespoke designs and modifications are incorporated by Permali to suit the type of vessel and customised requirements such as: rail height and width, numbers of handrails, seated angle and type of hinge points; manual or automated operation. For aircraft carriers, approach lighting is included in flight deck net safety systems.
Permali designs, manufactures and supplies a vast range of bespoke FRP composite panels, components, and systems, based on a wide variety of resins, fibres, cores, and adhesives for a wide range of safety critical military and civil land, sea and air applications. The Permali product range also includes standard and bespoke Tuftane® aromatic thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) elastic films.

"From design to final product delivery, we are always ready to deliver on the specifications of a client with our comprehensive inhouse processing capabilities and team expertise"

- Fraser Rankin, Director of Sales and Marketing