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Tecnalia Focuses on Machining Composites by Waterjet Technologies in the REFORM Project

20 December 2013

Tecnalia is participating in the REFORM project by focusing its work on the machining of composite materials by means of waterjet as well as conventional cutting.

The use of composites in aeronautics is on the rise and Tecnalia believes its spread to other sectors depends only on reducing production costs, which are currently very high. Featuring among the manufacturing challenges is the need to make cuts in the parts with precision and while respecting the design geometry.

That is why the European project known as REFORM (Resource-Efficient Factory Of Recyclable Manufacturing composite), funded by the European Commission through Grant agreement No: 283336 with a duration of 4 years, is focusing on the manufacture of composites to develop cleaner, more efficient technologies for meeting the challenges of composites. These composites produced with a polymer base and reinforced with fibre, which can be of various types, allow components to be manufactured with a considerable cut in weight while maintaining or even improving their mechanical properties. In most of the applications this weight reduction means energy saving during the product’s in-service lifetime.

REFORM is geared towards the manufacturing cycle of fibre-reinforced composites. The methods under consideration are, rolling, machining, assembly and recycling. Tecnalia is participating in the project alongside another 13 partners and is working towards the machining of composite materials, using waterjet as well as conventional cutting. Featuring amongst Tecnalia’s activities is the development of an adaptive control system that can be applied to various materials and working conditions, as well as a fresh solution for swarf extraction, which is essential for the final quality of the part.

In waterjet cutting technology the research is concentrating on the process and the application of it to composites resulting in a cutting model that could be implemented in a CAD/CAM module and in machine manufacturers directly. Within REFORM, the model will be used to develop the CAD/CAM module in collaboration with ModuleWorks and Fraunhofer IPT. The main advantage of this process over conventional machining is high productivity and a lower environmental impact. REFORM will be using a CAD/CAM module optimized for composites and which will validate the environmental savings through its validation in real industrial cases.

It is hoped that the project will result in a new tool for a type of machining of high-performance composites using waterjet.

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