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New projects around DRY COMPOSITES


Although much has already been told about the JEC 2015 tradeshow , we would also like to highlight some of the news detected there around dry composites use.
Indeed, dry is taking more and more place in the production of composite parts. At the 2015 tradefair we could see how AFP and ATL (Ingersoll, Coriolis, MTorres, Electroimpact…) systems were changing to be more versatile and capable of laying also dry materials. Gripping systems were also pushing innovation to be able to handle the dry fabrics gently, accurately and without disturbing the fiber orientation. Automation of the preforming is one of the main issues.

Innovative machine architectures
Two machines attracted our attention due to their innovative configuration.
The Staxx Compact 1700 by Broetje, oriented to both aerospace and automotive applications,   is a machine that reminds us of a machining centre. With axes on the head and working table, the machine allows free design of parts as it works with tows, in up to 16 parallel lanes. The machine is said to be able to work with any kind of materials: thermoplastic, thermoset and  dry tows. It was designed looking for high productivities and flexibility.  Although the machine concept has limits in flexibility, when compared to current AFP systems installed on robots and with laying quality still to be improved, this first model of the machine shows a high commitment from Broetje on this technology.

DMG MORI´s mobile ULTRASONIC-machining of COMPOSITES for MRO

The machine tool manufacturer presented a composite repair solution. As they state in their commercial info: “The 5-axis  kinematics with integrated rotary- and swivel-axis allows challenging operations with angles of ± 95°. Due to the lightweight construction and the specially designed vacuum system, the ULTRASONIC mobileBLOCK can be adapted easily and flexibly onto the damaged components. The gripping system has double angle compensation thanks to its adjustable adaption arms and vacuum feet with ball joint”

DLR is using a similar architecture in a research program for a complete new repair process :the machine is directly mounted on damaged structures and mills typical repair scarf. It  uses an infusion process of dry fiber preforms for the patch manufacturing. The process is an in-situ infusion and curing of the patch directly in the scarf “

DMG MoriDMG Mori and DLR Solutions

The concept of these systems is similar to previous works, or even actual devices on the market, like those from Fatronik or Mtorres.

GRIPPERS of the AZIMUT project for complex geometries
Tha adaptability problem of the gripping solutions for complex geometries has been tackled in the Azimut project which tries three different ideas :


SECTORS – application of composites
Aeronautics as a very strong sector developing automatization solutions for other parts in the value chain and lot of investigation in automatization processes, materials and simulation programs always looking to improve: fiability, quality and cost (flexibility, speed…)

Automotive seems to be taking another step in their slow approach into composite. Although in the long term, it will be an interesting market. But the fair was reflecting bigger interest, new projects and new developments.

As regards to the wind energy, blade manufacturing keeps to be a matter of research.  Due to increasing blade sizes specially in the offshore, carbon fiber could also be a material of choice. DLR presented the Smart Blades project for the production of bir carbon blades.

Another project around blades is the BladeMaker. It is working in the automation of the production of the blades.The objectives are reduction of labor costs, less material costs and improved blade quality and reliability. Big companies like Siemens, Sinoi, Basf….are some of the partners.Blademaker

As usual JEC Europe has proved to be a must in the world of composites.


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NDT in aerospace: an opportunity for cost reduction


From 12 to 14th November the 6th Symposium for NDT in aerospace, took place in Madrid. Important companies from aerospace (Airbus, Boeing..) as well as non destructive testing systems suppliers (Tecnatom, Fraunhofer IZPF, M2M, Testia,…), took part in it. Indeed, the aerospace sector is leading the way in the development of non destructive testing technologies.

This gives us a good opportunity to talk about inspection and recommend you some interesting readings on the issue.

NDT is applied in both final part inspection and in-process testing. There are diferent technologies to inspect parts without damaging it, from thermography  to the latest laser generated ultrasonics, there is a wide range of choices depending on the technological needs.

Test equipment Test equipment clasification


Ultrasounds use is widespread in aeronautics, for final part inspection, in fabrication and maintenance. The following image shows a schematic view of ultrasound inspection systems and their aplications.

DefectsUltrasound technologies


Inspection in resin infused composites

Liquid moulding manufacturing methods are evolving for their use in big parts and one-shot integrated  elements in aerospace. These are complex processes and the inspection as a part of them, opens opportunities for cost reductions through quality assurance.

cost reductionCost reduction

Application of monitoring technologies in the different steps of a liquid moulding process:

fields of applicationFields of application

The most challenging is the integration of these systems on intermediate steps of the production system, to detect problems on time and consequently, reduce quality costs. On the one hand, we could be talking about complex geometries and big sizes. On the other hand,  not to increase the cost of the part, due to long production times, we need to employ systems working at big speeds.

We already spoke of some commercial testing equipments in a previous post. These need to be integrated  in automatic handling systems. This implies technological developmentes as programming interfaces, trajectories,  superpose images in big parts….

There’s still a long way to go until industrialization but there are already some interesting developments for testing in process in liquid moulding composites production.

Some projects that have been working on the matter are:


For futher information we recommend the following articles:

Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), new aircraft program with dry composites for the empennage using A-VaRTM technology


Recently we assisted to the roll out first flight of the test aircraft for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) programme. The empennage of the MRJ is produced by a RTM process using dry fabrics .

MRJ_1 MRJ_2MRJ first flight

We have found many informations published on the issue and we want to share with you some of the most interesting aspects we have read refering to the use of dry fabrics to manufacture the composite part in this project.

The company is developing a highly competitve aircraft. On the one hand, they are offering interesting operating costs with a good efficiency, in a big measure, thanks to light weight materials. On the other hand, they are working on a price competitive airplane, through improved production costs.

Cost reduction strategies:

  • Precision on parts production for easing assembly.
  • Lean manufacturing concepts like moving assembly lines: the product moves through the factory from one manufacturing process to the next.
  • Circular body cross section for simplified tool design.
  • Oven cured composite parts.

The composite empennage (horizontal and vertical stabilizers and fuselage interface) has been fabricated using an improved Liquid Moulding process called A-VaRTM. This process was developed jointly with Toray.

A-VaRTM molding technology is an advanced version of VaRTM. Vacuum Asisted Resin Transfer Moulding is a low cost composite manufacturing technique where, differing from prepreg laminated composites, the resin is infused into dry fabric, formed on a mold near product shape under vacuum pressure and cured in an oven.

A-VaRTM is a new version of it, suitable for aeronautic parts and with very good mechanical properties, by means of:

  • Adoption of a fiber-reinforced base material with high quality and strength (dry Non Crimp Woven). Carbor fiber bundles form the primary structural element. Very fine glass fibers are used as auxiliary warp fiber to facilitate flow during resin infusion and to tie warp and auxiliary and fibers toghether.
  • Application of thermoplastic particles designed to toughen the composite materials. They are used as a tackifier to consolidate the preform and also permit the use of a lower-viscosity and less expensive epoxy thermoset resin.
  • Optimization of the forming process to obtain a high volume fraction of fiber (Vf = volume of fiber/volume of object × 100, targeted value 55 to 60%). MHI uses a proprietary diffusion or flow media to control the resin infusion flow and rate, as well as to bleed off excess resin. This maximizes fiber volume in the finished composite part; for aircraft primary structure.
  • Oven cure occurs in two steps: first, cure under vacuum and then postcure in an oven at 350°F/180°C VaRTM

    Conventional process vs VaRTM

With the A-VaRTM process mechanichal properties similar to prepreg have been achieved.

Mechanical propertiesMechanical properties

The new process improves costs in all the aspects. Cost associated to materials are lower , the composite manufacturing using oven heating to cure is cheaper, we see cost improvements even in assembly and quality assurance. Although aluminium is still more cost competitive, A-VaRTM gets very close to it, as the component in composite has only 1.2 times the cost of the aluminium part.

CostCost comparison

The VaRTM uses dry fabric that is not impregnated with resin so the material is easier to fit around a three dimensional geometry.

WrinklesNo wrinkles using dry woven fabrics

The composite manufacturing cycle times have also been dramatically reduced on the stringers. They are cobonded with the precured skin panel, using a film adhesive, and the assembled component is subsequently postcured in an oven more than 19.7-ft/6m long.

Vertical stabilizer
Therefore Liquid Moulding with dry (engineered) fabrics proves succesful for the composite manufacturing of exigent aeronautic parts at lower overall costs.
You will find more information in the following articles : FightGlobal; CompositesWorld; MHI(1); MHI(2) ; ICCM

Liquid moulding manufacturing- not necessarily OoA



We are used to hearing  about liquid moulding processes linking them with curing steps out of autoclave. However this is not always the case.

While the autoclave is one of the most expensive elements of the production process of big composite parts on the aeronautical sector, and therefore is highly interesting to develop processes that do not need it, this in not the only advantage of  liquid moulding.

Among the main advantages, we find the use of dry materials with long shelf life that lowers costs. Furthermore it facilitates working with non crimp fabrics, reinforcements that are making great advances in properties that allow a simplification of the lay up. By liquid moulding it is also easier to manufacture monolitic parts, integral constructions as a single piece, i.e. skins and stringers, avoiding fastening step.

ALAComposite wing

In this sense a very interesting  interview was published in the latest edition of  Aerospace Manufacturing .

They interviewed Mike Richardson, Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast´s vice president, engineering and business development .

He talks about the experience of Bombardier in the production of the  all composite wings of the C-Series. For this purpose the use a patented proprietary process named RTI (Resin Transfer Infusion). The process was created as an alternative to RTM which results in high quality parts but would need two expensive big dimension moulds.  The RTI consist in the infusion of very controlled amounts of resin into the dry fiber and an autoclave final curing step .

 AUTOCLAVEC-Series wing curing step


Collin Elliot explains that during the development of RTI they could state new advantages of the process that created very consistent parts reducing the gaps that should be filled with shim material, with the introduction of local “intensifiers” during cure, they were even able to completelly eliminate shim in certain areas.

They could also speed up the laying process, in his own words: “For the RTI process, we can use individual plies which are 2,5 to 3 times thicker than those used in traditional prepreg materials because the thickness of a pre-impregnated ply is limited in order to ensure the right resin saturation level. So we need many less individual plies of dry fabric to achieve the right strength and  stiffness, thereby significantly reducing the labour content and cycle time”

The next step is to develop an automated lay up process which could also improve the costs associated to very sofisticated ATL/AFP systems.

Why the use of NCF is growing in complex structural components


NCFs are a type of “engineered fabrics” to reinforce polimeric composites that are made up of multiple layers or fibers stitched together. The most used NCF’s are biaxial, triaxial and cuadriaxial fabrics, where the fiber tows are straight and with different orientations (0, 45, 90 degrees) to provide multidirectional properties.

Non  Crimp FabricImage: Non Crimp Fabric

The combination of multiple layers of fibers, stacked in just one fabric, leads to faster and cheaper preforms production processes than unilayer based processes. It also has advantages for LCM (Liquid Composite Moulding) methods as NCF present better drappability due to the good deformability of unidirectional plies versus vowen fabrics that are undulated (crimp). An additional advantage of the NCF reinforced composites is that they generally feature better mechanical properties as the tows are not crimped or woven. Furthermore the delamination resistance and impact strenght of the NCF reinforced composites is better.

One key advantage of the NCF’s is the ability to drap into relatively complex shapes without giving rise to wrinkles that normally appear with standard woven textiles and preimpregnated tapes. The excelent conformability of biaxial fabrics under “dome type” deformation conditions is caused by a slipage of the fiber tows as there is no joints that restrict this movement.
This is why the use of NCF is rapidly growing in aircraft, automotive, yatching , wind energy and complex structural components.

A lot of work is being done in NCF to push the boundaries of this materials:

Research is beeing developed to increase the limits of the deformability of NCFs through the determination of the best stitching conditions. These studies show that the deformation of the biaxial y triaxial NCF under load (bias extensión test), happens through rotation, sliding and compaction of the tows. The resistance of the NCF to biaxial deformation is dependant on the density, the tension and the position of the stitches. Higher tension on the stitches gives bigger resistance to deformation due to better sliding resistance.

The veils and binders used by the different suppliers play also an important role. A veil is a thin layer of polimeric material formed by fibers with random orientation. Binders are thermoplastic particles that act like an adhesive. Nowadays they are used to minimice fragility of the epoxi matrix on the composite.They also avoid fraying or wrong orientation and specially optimize the permeability, improving process times. Permeability of the material is a key feature. On one hand high permeability accelerates infusion processes, on the other hand too much space between the fibers can lead to a worse impregnation of the fibers worsening the fatigue behaviour. Many innovations are beeing lauched in these topics.

The manufacturing requires handling and depositing the NCF on the mouls with big precision, repeatability and productivity. Drappability modeling is also an important research area , predicting and improving the deformation of the fabrics depending on the tension applied is the basis for the good part design and process optimization.

In this line developments like Drapetest allows to automatically characterize drapability and the formation of defects during draping and forming The tester combines the measurement of the force required for forming with an optical analysis of small-scale defects .

Video: Bombardier CSeries uses NCF

Raw material suppliers outlook a good future for dry composite materials


Key structural composite components are being manufactured with dry preforms and resin infusion, replacing in many cases the use of prepreg materials for parts manufacturing. In this sense, raw material suppliers play a key role when developing the newest materials to meet the aerospace sector strict quality requirements. What are their thoughts regarding the use of infusion process for the aerospace industry?
We have had a short interview with some experts in the area. Henri Girardy, from Hexcel and Sven Blank, from Saertex have shared their overview about this subject with us.
Thank you Henry and Sven!

Saertex HExcel

1. What are the primary benefits that Infusion offers in aerospace applications, compared with long established prepreg and autoclave curing processes commonly used today? What applications appear to be most promising?

Sven Blank (SB): Multiple layers/orientations in a single fabric can facilitate higher deposition rates resulting in savings of both time and money. Moreover, the use of NCF can eliminate some, if not all debulking processes. In addition, most infusion materials can be stored at ambient temperatures and have extended shelf life (1-2 years) when compared to prepregs. This way, the material handling is simpler and there is no need to chart out time or storage temperature and it is not required to wait until materials come to ambient temperature.
There is no risk of foreign materials to be present in laminates due to use of release paper, etc.

Henry Girardy (HG): Key benefits are cost and production rates. Cost savings have been demonstrated in part design, function integration, less assembly time, and potentially fewer finishing operations.

2. Automation such as AFP has played an important role increasing quality, increasing rate and reducing cost of parts made with prepreg. Are there opportunities to do the same with Infusion processes?

SB: Parts with complicated geometries, thick parts or parts with large surface areas are requiring higher deposition rates. Therefore automated dry fabric deposition technology could be a good option to enhance increasing rate and quality. On the other hand, narrow dry tapes could be used as localized reinforcement of NCF lay ups.

GH: We strongly think that automation of the dry preform is a key success of factor for aerospace structures made by OOA technologies. OEMs and Tier 1s are looking forward for eliminating the costly autoclave curing process.Moreover, as we see it, one of the main reasons why dry materials do not fully meet the mechanical performance requirements for primary structure, is the lack of automation in lay-up process. Therefore, there is a need to automate the process.

3. It is a commonly held perception that infused materials do not provide as good mechanical properties as prepreg/autoclave materials.
a. If true, this means that an Infused part will have a weight penalty?.
b. If false, what can be done to improve the understanding of these materials?

SB: Infused materials could also provide good mechanical properties, but there is some work to be done to improve the understanding of the materials. Such as…
-Educating customers regarding the advantages of NCF and infusion.
-Expand marketing of  infusion materials into aerospace applications
-Publish/present data from controlled experiments comparing infused and prepreg laminates.

GH: The new materials, such as our HiTape® fabric, enables really good properties in vacuum infused parts. Parts up to 30mm thick with a 58 to 60% fibre volume content can be achieved. Infused materials will play a key an important role for next generation aircraft, due to the fact that apart from weight, costs will also drive the material and technology choice.

-Automated inspection coming to composites


Automation of composite manufacturing processes has improved productivity (pounds produced per hour) by roughly a factor of ten or more compared with older manual methods. However, in process inspection of these parts at the layup stage is still performed 100% by eye. The irony of this situation is that some parts produced today by “automated” methods actually take longer to inspect than to produce.

Consider the 787 Fuselage Barrel sections 47 and 48 produced by Boeing using Automated Fiber Placement (AFP). A recent paper co-authored by Boeing (see reference of the article below) describes the challenges and improvements made over several years of AFP production experience.

Cycle time of different elements to produce

Cycle time of different elements to produce the assembly

This figure from the paper breaks down the cycle time elements to produce the assembly. “Program” represents the time spent executing the NC program to lay up the part and comprises 24% of the total cycle time. “Inspect and Rework” consumes 63% of the total cycle time, by far the largest element. In other words, Inspection/Rework takes more than 2.5 times as long to perform as does the layup itself. This even more significant because this time distribution is after several years of process improvements, including Inspection improvements, had been implemented and overall cycle time had been reduced considerably.

The AFRL (US Air Force Research Laboratory), NCDMM and Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc. are working together to develop and demonstrate an automated system capable of detecting and categorizing defects such as missing tows, fiber twists and gaps commonly found during Automated Fiber Placement (AFP). They are developing Automated Composite Structure Inspection System (ACSIS) designed for AFP layups. The system consists of a camera, lamps and a line scanner mounted on a Gantry that scans the layup to identify and flag flaws. Inspection is performed offline on an AFP layup after it has been produced. For some geometries such as spars made on a dual sided mandrel, one side of the mandrel can be inspected while the opposite side is undergoing layup. In other cases layup and inspection must be performed in series. A prototype system is now operating and beta trials are planned during 2014. ATK has been selected to collaborate with them for a three-month beta site.

Ref.: Harper, R., Halbritter, A., “Big Parts Demand Big Changes to the FP Status Quo”, SME Composites in Manufacturing, Charleston, SC, October 2012)

-“Dark-on-dark”: a machine vision approach for dry carbon fiber inspection


As automation of dry carbon fiber manufacturing gains more and more momentum across the board, inspection systems become a crucial factor when it comes to assuring the quality of final products and the efficient use of available resources. Due to their ability to detect mistakes and faults at an early stage, it is straightforward to infer the great impact inspection systems can have when suitably integrated in a production line.

The systems presented in this entry are focused mainly in machine vision technology and cover inspection for both dry composite fabrics and post-infusion manufactured pieces. One of the main drawbacks they will need to overcome is the fact that carbon fabric absorbs a wide spectrum of light and presents a black color. Therefore, the design of an adequate lighting system will play a critical role at the task of detecting faults on the material (holes, fuzzballs, foreign-object-debris,etc.) and at providing good performance in the so called “dark-on-dark” scenario where vision systems tend to struggle.


The Apodius Vision System (AVS) is designed to measure the fiber orientation of composite fabrics and, based on the irregularities of the obtained pattern, also detect gaps or impurities that dry composite plies may exhibit. Specifically, it can take orientation angle measurements of 0.1º precision for every 50×50 mm² of both woven and non-woven fabrics thanks to its diffuse lighting technology that minimizes reflections on the fabric’s surface. Also, it is attachable to a robotic arm and, combined with an intuitive software interface the AVS, enables an easy integration of fabric inspection inside a production system.

Apodius inspection head

Apodius´ inspection head


Another product worth mentioning and highly related to quality control of composite parts is the FScan, designed by the Austrian applied research company Profactor. Instead of using the above mentioned diffuse lighting technique, their machine vision system exploits the reflection model of carbon fiber material and allows to produce high-contrast images. The sensor has a field of view of 60×60 mm² and its capable of scanning a surface with a speed of 1 m/s while detecting in real time all sorts of defects suchs as gaps, inclusions or missing rovings.

Profactor´s high constract carbon fiber images

Profactor´s high constrast carbon fiber images


This French company with worldwide presence has a very strong background on automation of processes in several industries and is now expanding into the composite market. Their vast experience with different technologies allows them not only to look for defects in several kinds of fabrics, but also to inspect cracks, surface roughness and even fiber orientation of manufactured pieces, after the infusion process is completed. Contrary to 2D systems that infer the presence of defects from irregularities in the observed patterns, Edixia also makes use of 3D technologies which allows them to take direct measurements of the height of a wrinkle, depth irregularities or the 3D location of a cut edge.

Edixia features

Edixia´s features


Finally, although they do not integrate cameras in their solution, a very original alternative is provided by Suragus. Taking advantage of the conductive properties of carbon fiber, Suragus takes an eddy current approach for this problem, allowing them to successfully leap over the challenging “dark-on-dark” scenario of vision systems. Furthermore, since eddy currents have some penetration in the material, the obtained measurements are not limited to the properties of the surface but also cover a few layers below it. This enables fast inspection for mulitple-layer fabrics (up to 5-7) that otherwise could not be inspected with standard vision systems. Their current  products are able to inspect a square surface of up to 600×600 mm² with a resolution up to 100-200 microns.

Suragus´ Eddy Current Inspection system

Suragus´ Eddy Current Inspection system



JEC Europe 2014: innovative products, aimed at dry preform manufacturing and infusion


The most innovative products aimed at dry preform manufacturing and infusion where shown in JEC Europe 2014,  the most important trade fair of composites industry that took place in Paris between the 11th and 13th of March. The fair keeps showing a great level as long as it refers to expositors and visitor numbers, as for the quality and quantity of products and innovations that were presented.

The big possibilities that this material offers are already being exploited in all kind of industries and the biggest issue is now the increase of productivity and the improvement of production costs.
In this post we  have highlighted some innovative products, aimed at dry preforming and infusion,  that drew the attention of the DRY COMPOSITES team.

Schmalz showed its solutions for the composites industries, with its range of vacuum and needle grippers for carbon and glas fiber fabrics handling. According to them, they will be launching  briefly electrically operated grippers, which will offer great benefits to those proffesionals who want to avoid the costly compressed air.

Also with the interesting quality of the flexibility to addapt to the desired geometry, Fraunhofer IPT presente two new solutions. An-Octopus Kinematic gripper which is adapted easily to the deposition point, as well asflexible shaped electrostatic grippers.

Schmalz´s and Fraunhfoer IPT´s grippers

Schmalz´s and Fraunhfoer IPT´s grippers


AFPT presented its multimaterial, head winner of the JEC innovation Award 2014 wich is able to process thermoplast tapes, duroplast prepregs and dry fiver rovings. The head was originally developed by Fraunhoffer IPT. The head is constructed in a modular way and it can be adapted to different fiber materials, such as glass and carbon fibers, as well as various matrix materials on the same equipment, using lasers.

AFPT´s flexible deposition head

AFPT´s flexible deposition head

Companies such as Dieffenbacher or Fives, presented its fully automated cell for composites parts manufacturing. By acquiring the Relay machinery, expertise and intellectual property rights of Fiberforge, Dieffenbacher is investing in the automated tape placement technology, both dry material placement and also adding a key technology to its product portfolio in the growing market for thermoplastic structural components for lightweight design. Hi Pressure Resin Transfer Molding machinery by Kraus Maffei was also presented in the exhibition

Dieffenbacher´s cell for composites parts manufacturing

Dieffenbacher´s automated cell for composites parts manufacturing

An interesting German government funded project was presented at the Show. Saertex, Areva and Bremen University have developed together a new solution for the automated wind blades manufacturing. It consists of a new and innovative approach based on the two-dimensional automated layup of single NCF layers to a multiple stack followed by the forming of the final contour into a 3D preform.

Mapretec´s project

Mapretec´s project for automated wind blade manufacturing

Fraunhofer IFAM presented 0,3 micrometer thick plasma-polymer release layer that leaves no residues of release agents on either the component or the mold.

Fraunhofer IFAM´s thick plasma-polymer

Fraunhofer IFAM´s thick plasma-polymer

Textechno presented DRAPETEST, a new automatic drapability tester, that has won the JEC Innovation Award in 2014. The solution to automatically characterize drapability and the formation of defects during draping and forming. the tester combines the measurement of the force, which is required for forming, with an optical analysis of small-scale defects such as gaps and loops by means of image analysis. An optional triangulation sensor can determine large-scale defects such as wrinkles

Textechno´s drapability characterization system

Textechno´s drapability characterization system


-Sampe Europe 2014: from aerospace OoA to automotive thermoplastics


The title of the 35th International Technical Conference & Forum organized by SAMPE was “Low cost Composite Processing, from Aerospace OOA to Automotive Thermoplastic”. As the title indicates the main issues were the way to decrease the manufacturing cost in aerospace composites and the relation between thermoplastics and composites in automotive.

As it is known, it is very important to avoid the autoclave in order to reduce the composites manufacturing

  • reducing tooling cost for component development and low-rate production runs
  • adding capability for manufacturing of very large highly integrated composite components
  • reducing capital costs for autoclave and associated facilities
  • and removing autoclave bottleneck for production

Different methods for avoiding the autoclave were discussed along the conference, the experts presented different projects related to this subject, focused on the use of NCFs and resin infusion methods (summarized below).

Taking into account the unique challenge of increasing the presence of composites in new single aisle aircraft, current works are targeting at developing robust, fully automated processes for the realization of large scale structures. New functionalities are being added to existing materials, like e.g. enhancing conductivity for the improvement of lightning strike behavior.

On the other hand, thermoplastic materials are being optimized and, last but not least, new multi-functional composite materials are under development to broaden the range of composite applications. In addition, huge efforts are being undertaken to enable structural bonding for composite repair.

With respect to the automotive application, the use of carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic was considered the next challenge. The laser assisted and induction processes in welding and heating with thermoplastics were the most important topics of discussion.

Related to the main subject of the DRY COMPOSITES blog, some projects have been outlined from the conference:

  • In terms of OoA manufacturing technologies by means of NCF and RTM, Airbus Military presented its BAHIA project, focused on alternative fan cowl doors configuration and manufacturing.  Within the project framework a new fan cowl door is designed and a RTM technology is used in order to manufacture the structure, by eliminating 2 autoclave curing cycles and joining grid and skin through a unique bonding line. This way, Airbus Military intends to obtain a more competitive and reliable product.

       Co-authors: Javier Gomez Vega, Maria Antonia River Orellana, Luis Rubio García

Airbus 340-642 fan colw door

Airbus 340-642 fan cowl door

  • Researches from Irish Centre for Composite Research, MSSI and University of Limerick presented a design of experiments study assisted in optimising the LRI manufacturing process (liquid resin infusion). According to them, LRI processes is challenging due to the difficulty in achieving full fibre wet-out, target fibre volume fraction and acceptable void content etc. In this study, flat composite panels were manufactured using aerospace grade Benzoxazine resins systems (one of which is targeted at high temperature applications) and aerospace grade carbon fibre NCF (non-crimp fabric with and without powder binder).

      Co-authors: Anthony Comer, Dipa Ray, Winifred Obange, Gearoid Lancy, Inga Rosca, Walter    Stanley

Double-omega stiffened skin manufactured by VIM using Benzoxazine B.

Double-omega stiffened skin manufactured by VIM using Benzoxazine B.

  • Other EADS, Eurocopter and University of Stuttgart researchers did also present a study, aimed at the fundamental material behavior of such unidirectional-braided structures, which are converted from carbon-fibers and thin thermoplastic auxiliary-yarns directly to the part geometry as UD-plies. The promising results emphasize the feasibility of using UD-braiding for structures with high stiffness as well improved damage resistance.

Co-authors: C. Metzner a, A. Gessler a, C. Weimer a, U. Beier b, P. Middendorf

UD-braiding – the machine, process and textile

UD-braiding – the machine, process and textile