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Cranfield University Leads “Structural Joints using Novel Embedded Inserts” Project as part of the EPSRC Centre of Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp)

09 July 2013

An EPSRC CIMComp research project, ‘Structural Joints using Novel Embedded Inserts’ is underway with partners from the UK Aerospace, Formula 1 and prestige car industries.

The project is addressing the assembly cost and quality assurance issues of bolted or bonded metallic attachment fittings, and is being led by Andrew Mills at Cranfield University.

Cranfield University state that the use of carbon fibre composites for the highly loaded target components can typically save 70% compared to steel and 40% compared to aluminium, but with severe manufacturing cost and quality assurance disadvantages.

The project is investigating and developing designs for the embedding of stainless steel and titanium fittings within carbon fibre composite prepreg, fabric preforms and moulding compounds. Through the embedding of  metallic plates with arrays of short pins, the pins and joints are being  designed and manufactured to provide greater strength than either bolted or bonded joints, but the main challenge is also to provide  progressive, pseudo ductile failure and hence increase operational safety.   Novel welding and metal powder rapid manufacturing techniques are being used to provide the ‘spikey plate’ inserts.

The initial target applications are for UK luxury car and Formula 1 car suspension wishbones and carbon fibre composite aircraft landing gear attachments.

This project is just one of four types of research under EPSRC CIMComp. The other projects that are in progress are as follows.

·         Multi-Scale Modelling to Predict Defect Formation during Resin Infusion (Lead organisation: University of Nottingham);

·         Novel Approaches to the Manufacture of Complex Geometries from Broad Goods (Lead organisation: University of Bristol);

·         Innovative Multi-Material and Multi-Architecture Preforms (Lead organisation: University of Manchester).





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