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University of Manchester Leads “Innovative Multi-material Multi-architecture Preforms” Project as Part of the EPSRC Centre of Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp)

13 August 2013

The project aims to incorporate multi-functionality, damage tolerance and fatigue performance in advanced composites, and at the same time reduce manufacturing costs and cycle times through selective multi-scale hybridisation and the careful combination of fibre architectures.

Composites are traditionally manufactured with random fibre mats or SMC/BMCs for non-structural applications and with prepreg layers or slit tape for advanced structural applications.  As low-cost damage-tolerant alternatives, 3D fibre assemblies, known as ‘preforms,’ are being developed; these preforms are processed through low-cost resin infusion and out-of-autoclave curing routes.  Combining the expertise in applied robotics and textile technology, Prasad Potluri and his team have been developing novel machines such as 3D weaving, 3D braid-winding, stitch-bonding and robotic fibre placement machines for creating complex near-net 3D fibre preforms.  This project “Innovative multi-material multi-architecture preforms” is one of the four main research topics funded by the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp). 

Carbon fibres are combined with glass and thermoplastic fibres, as well as functional materials for electrical or thermal conduction, active heating, sensing, lightening protection and fibre-retardant properties. 2D/3D woven, braided and robotically placed multi-axial preforms, highly aligned discourteous preforms and metallic inserts are joined together with stitching and tufting techniques. This traditional knowledge in weaving, knitting, braiding, fibre processing, stitching and textile finishing processes is currently being applied to advanced composites manufacture at the North West Composites Centre. 

Novel multi-material multi-architecture preforms will be demonstrated in aerospace, automotive and energy storage applications in collaboration with our industrial partners.

The other three projects in progress under CIMComp are as follows.

  • Multi-Scale Modelling to Predict Defect Formation during Resin Infusion (Lead organisation: University of Nottingham);
  • Structural Joints using Novel Embedded Inserts (led by Cranfield University); and
  • Novel Approaches to the Manufacture of Complex Geometries from Broad Goods (led by the University of Bristol).






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