Having met all of its objectives whilst remaining industrially focused, the project gained a positive review from the European Commission for its real progress for end-user applications.
The aim of the project was to develop the manufacturing process for high-speed placement of carbon, glass and polymer fibre-reinforced matrices, in selected locations in a composite structure, to provide the optimum reinforcement, weight and cost profile within a part.
Gary Foster, Senior Project Manager at NetComposites and Stellar Project Lead, explains, “More and more often, composite materials are being used in structural components across a range of applications. The benefits are wide ranging but they only go part of the way to optimising the amount of materials used in the structure. We knew that the ideal structure would have different combinations of composite materials in predetermined locations in a hybrid multi-material structure, and we wanted to research this as a viable option.”
The concept of this project was to develop the design methodologies, manufacturing processes, equipment and control systems needed for localised placement of different fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composite tapes onto different substrates, creating locally reinforced components that are fully weight-optimised. The project focused on the development of the Automated Tape Laying (ATL) process to selectively place reinforced thermoplastic tapes in 3 manufacturing routes; selective reinforcement of existing components, direct additive manufacture of components, and manufacture of selectively reinforced tailored blanks for compression moulding.
Foster continues, “We wanted to develop a manufacturing process that could significantly affect the weight of structures whilst offering improved stiffness where possible. Using various case studies, including a skateboard and an aeroplane wing profile, we were able to significantly improve simulation as well as the tape material used and the process technique. The quality of the tape produced has proven to be superior in each of the end-user applications that it has been tested in.”
Stellar was a nine partner project with organisations from six European countries. Led by NetComposites, the project also includes: Toyota Motor Europe, Airborne, HBW-Gubesch Thermoforming, AFPT, CGTech, ESI, The Montanuniversität Leoben, Fraunhofer IPT.
Please contact Gary Foster at NetComposites for more information about any of the materials and technologies used in this project.