Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

REFORM Report Summary

Project ID: 283336
Funded under: FP7-NMP
Country: United Kingdom

Final Report Summary - REFORM (Resource-Efficient Factory Of Recyclable Manufacturing composite components)

Executive Summary:
Resource-Efficient Factory Of Recyclable Manufacturing composite components (REFORM) was a 4 year project funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Factory of the Future Program to develop the next generation of production technologies. The project developed clean and resource-efficient technologies for composites manufacture and disposal, focussing on each individual production stage.
Within REFORM, methods for forming, machining (cutting and trimming), assembly and recycling were considered and demonstrated through a range of case-studies. The project outcomes will allow green, economically viable production techniques to be integrated into the composites eco-factory of the future.
The achievements of the REFORM project are:
• Development of a laser-assisted tape-layup system which can reduce setting energy and scrap by 50% and cost by 45% for the right part
• Development of a low-cost open-source augmented reality lay-up system which can reduce scrap by 15% and form part of the quality control procedure for composites in critical applications.
• Development of a water and abrasive recycling unit which can recover 90-95% of abrasive and water during operation and remove the need for biocides
• Development of waterjet hardware, software and parameter sets which can reduce cutting time and energy use of waterjet machining by 50-75%
• Development of modular tooling which is 50-80% lighter. It can reduce manufacturing time by 70%, is 90-95% cheaper than current tooling and can reduce ramp-up and cycle times
• Development of an effective fibre recovery mechanism that can reclaim fibres with <5% resin content and with strength losses of only 25%-30% (carbon) and 40%-50% (glass)
• Industrial demonstration of thermoplastic components being recycled into new products

Project Context and Objectives:
Resource-Efficient Factory Of Recyclable Manufacturing composite components (REFORM) was a 4 year project funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Factory of the Future Program to develop the next generation of production technologies. The project developed clean and resource-efficient technologies for composites manufacture and disposal, focussing on each individual production stage.
Composites are becoming very popular as they allow component weight to be reduced without compromising on strength. In many applications, such weight reductions lead to energy savings during the service-life of the product. When calculating the environmental footprint of a component, it is important to investigate the entire life-cycle, including material extraction, manufacture, end-of-life disposal and recyclability. This ensures that gains made in one area do not cause waste and inefficiency elsewhere.
Within REFORM, methods for forming, machining (cutting and trimming), assembly and recycling were considered and demonstrated through a range of case-studies. The project outcomes will allow green, economically viable production techniques to be integrated into the composites eco-factory of the future – in fact, many project results are already being used by partners an in consultancy and have led to increased turnover and business orders.

The overall goal of REFORM is to reduce the environmental footprint of composites use. Current methods of machining and assembly have been taken from traditional manufacturing processes and have not been optimised for composite production. The goals of REFORM are to reduce manufacturing scrap, waste and pollution and to develop methods to improve the recylability and reuse of composite components. Specifically, REFORM will
• Reduce scrap in the lay-up process through the use of laser templates or virtual / augmented reality
• Reduce energy consumption during curing by using low thermal mass tooling and fixturing
• Reduce waste in Abrasive Water-jet machining (AWJM) through process optimisation and water recovery
• Reduce overall machining, machining allowances and fastener count through smart component alignment and interfaces
• Reduce the number of parts by allowing large components to be built through the use of intelligent, lightweight fixturing
• Develop methods of recycling CFRP using new low-temperature, low-pressure processes

With regards to the technical work, REFORM was structured to ensure that the development work carried out relates to real industrial problems. Published data on mould technologies, tooling, composite manufacture and assembly were collected. Production bottlenecks, areas of poor eco-efficiency, and recycling opportunities were identified, and used to inform REFORM developments. Specific data for the case study parts was collected and environmental benchmarking carried out. The case studies were chosen to maximise the number of REFORM technical objectives which each could demonstrate and to allow each REFORM technology to be used on a number of case study parts so that the range of benefits could be assessed. The manufacture of the case-studies was measured to benchmark the current state of the art and demonstrate the gains made by REFORM at the end of the project. Technical work was then carried out to specify the new systems required to address these problems, including modifying existing laboratories in line with the special requirements of composites production and specifying new equipment and processes.
Partners then concentrated their efforts on the research work which formed the bulk of the project. Non-research objectives included:
• The identification of exploitable results and determination of the most appropriate means of exploitation.
• The identification of possible business opportunities for REFORM technologies.
• The identification of dissemination opportunities and a strong dissemination plan

In the final period, the focus moved from developing green technologies to applying them to the case study parts, quantifying any improvements and determining next steps. This was aided by previous work done in the plan for use and dissemination of knowledge (PUDF) which was refined in light of the experiences of the end-users. In some cases, the decision has been made to make the results freely available both for fast uptake and because a patent would be difficult to defend. A number of partners are already either using the results in consultancy are in talks to commercialise them, or are planning further developments through bilateral agreements between the partners.

Two methods were considered to reduce energy consumption and scrap in the lay-up process; laser-assisted tape lay-up and augmented reality. The first of these can consolidate parts during the lay-up process, removing the need for further energy-intensive steps, such as using an autoclave. Augmented reality can be used during manual lay-up to help the operator correctly position plies and so reduce waste due to human error. Both the laser-assisted tape-layup system and the augmented reality laboratory were optimised to meet the needs of the industrial partners. Demonstrator parts for the tape-laying system were defined and a number of prototype parts were built for assessment by the end-users. A closed-loop control system was implemented and a handbook of best practice and parameters to be used was produced to allow the system to be fully deployed and exploited in an industrial context. While this technology could not be applied to all the demonstrators, a reduction in material use of 70% was achieved for one demonstrator due to both reduced material input and a large reduction in scrap. As a result of the work carried out in the project, one partner is in discussion with industry to sell a number of tape-laying machines.

A number of different augmented reality set-ups were produced for use in the partner companies. These ranged from a fully-mobile tablet solution to an intelligent AR workbench for hands-free layup and instructions. Problems with access and lighting were investigated and different solutions determined on a case-by-case basis. Using information on mould tools ply orientation and sequence, the system was tested on a ceiling component, and quality control information was included. The aim has been to produce right-first-time lay-up, with minimal overlap and optimised composite placement. The solutions depended to some extent on the development of the peripheral hardware and software. In some cases, these developments didn’t come to market as quickly as envisaged (eg google glasses), so while implementation on the demonstrators was promising, further developments are required. The end-users found the system easy to use and intuitive. However, the tablets had a tendency to freeze and they were not hands-free. These issues should be resolved with next-generation hardware and software. A comparison of this open-source solution with the current, expensive, market leader shows that both systems have similar limitations (line of sight and target obstruction), but the REFORM system allows each stage to be recorded and used for quality control. With further developments, the REFORM system should have the edge in terms of both cost, ease of use and functionality.

Abrasive water jetting (AWJ) was chosen to reduce energy and waste during cutting and trimming operations. Although this is already a reasonably green process, several further improvements could be made (hardware and software optimisation) and new functional or green subsystems (water and garnet recycling, built-in milling head) added. During the first 36 months of REFORM, the components of multi-tasking hybrid machine were defined and work began on determining the optimal parameter combinations for green operation. The green AWJM was specified and prototypes of all new systems were developed and installed ready for test. These included the new head, fixtures, water recycling system and chip extraction system. One significant finding was that 60% of cutting cost was due to abrasive use.
In addition to the planned work, a garnet recycling module was included with the water-recycling unit, leading to additional work to characterise recycled garnet, investigating its performance against fresh abrasive. The recycling unit was installed and tested and can recover 90-95% of both water and abrasive. This has added cost benefits as time previously spent shovelling abrasive can be used on machine set-up and operation, increasing throughput. An interesting result is that 7.8 litres of biocide was used per week on the waterjet before the system was installed. No biocide has been required for 12 months (water is tested on a regular basis), as the water is turbulent. CAM software was developed which can treble the tool-life of the integrated milling head and ensure right-first-time cuts on high-value parts – particularly difficult in 5-axis water-jetting where through cuts and splashback can cause unintended damage. Chip and dust extraction systems have also been developed which is important for operator health and safety and can improve collection for material recycling. When applied to the demonstrators, process time was reduced by 50-75% depending on the part, with similar reductions in energy use and component cost. These results have led to high interest from industry and a spin-out is being considered. As well as the combined results, partner are commercialising the different areas. The water and garnet recycling machine is being patented and commercialised. The waterjet CAM software is also being commercialised and has opened a new market area for the partner involved, while the monitoring system has already been installed in an SME.

The range of current solutions for assembly was catalogued, with particular focus on their ecological potential. Savings could be made in assembly time and energy, materials used for joining (fasteners, lubrication, coatings, packaging etc), and material used for fixtures and fixture storage space. Novel fixtures made from composite off-cuts were investigated. These have the advantage of not only reducing waste and the consumption of raw materials but also have technological advantages because they match the thermal profile of the composites parts being joined. Patents were investigated, but as they would be hard to protect, it has been decided to make certain aspects freely available but to protect some of the IP related to their use. Technologies applied to the case studies in REFORM are now being considered for use in production. Early exploitation has already taken place for critical components in aerospace.

Dismantling techniques were investigated and experimental tests for fibre recovery systems were made. Initial parts to be recycled and parts which can use the recycled materials were chosen. Two methods of producing recycled fibres, ReLam and ReFib were developed and assessed. Some problems with the large oven led to sub-optimal results. These can be improved during the next development / commercialisation steps. When applied to the case study parts, there were some issues due to resin remaining in the part, or with the stitching being removed as well in some cases which could make the recycled material difficult to work with. Two case studies could use the recycled material in the same part, while the rest could use the material in a different part. Only one case study part produced no reusable material. Tests on the material which was recycled into the same part showed that there was no degradation in performance, although virgin fibre needed to be used in areas where visual appeal was important. The recycled carbon fibre costs €4 as compared to €20 for virgin fibre, so it is competitive for a large number of parts. It was estimated that around 50% of the material in the automotive and sports and leisure goods sectors could be replaced with recycled material. It was determined that it is not economical to recycle glass fibre as the virgin material is very cheap.

An initial review of life-cycle assessment legislation in various sectors was carried out. A framework was developed for later use by companies, in particular by SMEs, to allow them to make informed decisions with regards to investment in the new REFORM technologies. The current manufacturing methods of the different end-use parts were benchmarked to allow the improvements made through REFORM technologies to be assessed. A full analysis was done for two case study parts which between them used all of the technologies developed in REFORM. The impact of the technology was measured across 10 impact indicators including acidification, global warming, ozone depletion, human toxicity and eco-toxicity. The use of REFORM technologies on these parts reduced the indicators by 5%-30%, with the most dramatic results being for resource use (30%) and eco-system quality (20%).

Project Results:
Green forming - Laser tape-layup
Within the REFORM project, one task of the Fraunhofer IPT was to further improve its laser-assisted tape-placement systems. The achievements resulted in higher process speeds including winding speeds of over 1.5 m/s while maintaining a higher process quality due to enhanced process measurement systems and new quality control procedures. Besides the process improvements, the objective was to reduce the energy usage by at least 40 % (compared to conventional processes) and reduce scrap materials by at least 50 % (compared to conventional processes).
During the REFORM project, Fraunhofer IPT implemented a new industrial standard control system into its laser-assisted tape-placement systems. This new control system allows hard real-time applications, measurements and process control. The control system is based on Beckhoff TwinCAT 3. The new control system features a fully modular and highly customizable design, enabling Fraunhofer IPT to offer customized tape-placement solutions to both research and industry.
With the set-up of the new control system, process evaluation and experimental data collection has been done in order to gather knowledge on the influence of tape speed, tape tension, compression force and temperature on the consolidation quality, material shrinking and internal stresses and thus on the quality of the final component. This knowledge resulted in a handbook of best practices in laser-assisted tape placement. This handbook features an overview on the systems of Fraunhofer IPT, basics process principles, materials (fibers and resin), process planning, process parameters and quality testing (destructive/non-destructive).
With the enhanced laser-assisted tape-placement systems, Fraunhofer IPT produced two demonstrators to show the advantages of the technology. The first demonstrator was part of a car rim made out of carbon-fibre reinforced thermoplastics for racing applications. Tape-winding was used to manufacture a cylindrical structure of the car rim body with the objective of substituting metal parts of a conventional car rim.
The second demonstrator was a support structure for a rear wing of a Porsche supercar. With the aim of replacing a standard aluminium part, Fraunhofer IPT took an inexpensive glass-fibre reinforced thermoplastic organic sheet which was locally reinforced with carbon-fibre reinforced thermoplastic tapes. The tapes were applied in a load optimized direction for optimal yield of energy and material. In contrast to conventional processes, the material input could be lowered by 70 % with over 60 % less scrap material and over 40 % of energy savings. Thus Fraunhofer IPT has at least met and mostly exceeded the project objectives.
With the results of the REFORM project Fraunhofer IPT is able to optimize its product and service portfolio. Fraunhofer IPT offers customized special purpose machinery for both research and industrial applications, trainings and seminars on composite manufacturing and the production of custom prototype parts for the industry.
Green forming - Augmented Reality
Sheffield developed an augmented reality solution for ply layup within the project. A laboratory was established to develop an augmented reality solution to reduce scrap in the layup process. The laboratory allowed a variety of conditions to be simulated. Systems were assembled, created and tested with particular uses cases in mind. Variables in these uses cases included the size and geometry of the demonstrator parts and products, the environment in which the ply layup was taking place (environmental variables included lighting conditions and accessibility) and the mobility of the solution required. The mobility aspect of the solution was a key variable as the range of solution deployment locations varied from static workbenches, to flexible workshops, to large scale manufacturing environments. A solution was developed based on low cost equipment and COTS software and applied to three demonstrators.
Green waterjet developments
During REFORM, green machining (trimming, drilling, milling, etc.) of carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP) was investigated as a more environmentally-friendly route to cutting the material. Machining of CFRP is covered by conventional and non-conventional manufacturing processes. As a conventional machining technology the attention is drawn towards CNC milling and drilling whereas for non-conventional machining abrasive water-jet machining (AWJM) is investigated. The main aim is to develop machining technologies that are greener than the current state-of-the-art. In order to achieve this goal the following objectives have been set:
• Develop AWJ technology for the next generation of green technology based on a hybrid multi-task machine
• Develop a water re-cycling system for AWJ technology
• Develop the appropriate software to support the process chain
A study of this non-conventional process for FRP was carried out. Different composite materials were tested and models related to cost and quality were developed. The model predicts the jet lag, taper and roughness values for different materials and thicknesses according to the machinability number, material thickness and cutting speed or cutting quality. Tecnalia worked on an extension of the model to incorporate non-straight cuts.
The effect of using recycled abrasive has been studied by TECNALIA and USFD. Since the use of recycled abrasive affects the cutting quality, cutting power, and productivity, a comparison between normal and recycled abrasives has been made. It was found that recycled abrasive has a slightly higher cutting power than fresh, due to the sharper edges and that the top and bottom kerf widths were reduced in some materials. Both fresh and recycled abrasive produced a similar surface roughness, although surface quality was slightly improved using recycled abrasive.
A novel water recycling system was developed. The water re-cycling system turns the AWJM into a closed-looped system where the water used after cutting is filtered to be able to be reused as an input for the water pump; at the same time the abrasive is separated and prepared for recycling. The system allows 90-95% of both water and abrasive to be separated from the tank and recycled. As an added benefit, the induced turbulence eliminated the need for biocides to be added to the tank.
A study of FRP conventional cutting process was made in which different solid mill tools were short-listed and optimal milling techniques determined. When tested on case study parts, holes could be drilled which showed improvements in both yield and energy consumption as well as higher quality holes which did not require finishing.
A number of improvements were made to the hardware of the waterjet machine. Different elements include developments for the grates, water-jet tank, cutting head and fixtures to increase the power and stability of the jet and to reduce the amount of scrap (fixtures and grates).
Within the REFORM project, ModuleWorks developed a software library which allows toolpath strategies to be calculated for both water jet cutting and adaptive milling of composite materials, in a standard CAM chain. Due to their structure, cutting composite materials is a very complex process and typically multiple machining steps are needed. The library supports the user in integrating these steps into the process plan.
During the project it was possible to reduce number of steps needed for a full process planning and thereby to contribute to the aim of green machining production.
Overall, when tested on the industrial parts, the waterjet developments allowed waste, scrap, energy use and cost to be reduced by 75%.
Green Assembly
Technologies relevant to Modular, Configurable, Light-weight (MCL)Tooling and aligning and joining techniques for manufacture and assembly of composite components have been catalogued and mapped against applications. The main partners in this work were DVST (Leader), ACCIONA, AZIMUT-BENETTI, DIGRO, FORMTECH, TEKS, USFD.
Ways of increasing eco-efficiency of assembly operations on composite products were identified and concepts were ranked according to “Eco-Improvement Potential (I-POT)” using a simple rating system based on [the process % share of total eco-cost] x [% reduction realistically possible]. Energy Intensity (EI) or Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) in MJ was selected as a simple measure of eco burden. This immediately showed that a major portion of the energy invested in a composite product is associated with the incoming material: 60% in CFRP products and 30% in GRP – and then typically 30% of this becomes uncured waste.
Assembly operations provided only a minor contribution – but offered an ideal opportunity for beneficial local use of this high value waste stream. This is particularly true for CFRP composite products as the material contributes a high proportion of total CED and there can be significant advantages producing tool and part from the same material – matching thermal expansion coefficient and time constant.
Methods have been developed to produce components (RE-PREG), and flat board and standard shapes (RE-FORM) from uncured waste. RE-FORM provides a way of converting short shelf-lived hazardous waste into valuable, stable and inert stock material – with no more effort/cost than disposing of the waste.
Technologies enabling effective use of this thin, stiff material have been developed, including novel tooling concepts, and effective design, manufacture, configuration, alignment and joining methods that support assembly, disassembly (knock-down tooling) and reconfiguration (modification & reuse).
The technologies have been tested, integrated, demonstrated and applied in production.
Producing a medium sized automotive assembly with a combination of RE-PREG for the parts and RE-FORM flat-pack trimming and assembly fixtures reduced the eco-burdens per assembly by 50% - 73% (series volume 10 -1000), at the same time reducing tooling mass by 60-80%; tooling cost by 90-95% (New – Reconfigured);and tooling manufacturing time by 70% (Design time was similar).
There is no excuse not to collect and use uncured prepreg waste. Failure to do so makes neither economic nor ecological sense.
Recycling
The Re-Fib methodology is a low cost method for the recycling of carbon fibers. It uses lower temperatures (380 °C) over a time span of around 24 hours and hence fairly standard (cheap) ovens. This low temperature will still erase most polymer constituents (matrix, sizing, core materials, etc.) while virtually giving zero degradation of the carbon fiber (temperature is assumed to be much more important than processing time for degradation). The energy consumption is expected to be smaller than for competing technologies working at a higher temperature due to the oven running at constant temperature, better oven thermal insulation and added oven heat exchanger for gas combustion.
The complete recycling line should include robots for sorting of material and a Thermo Gravimetic Analyser (TGA), in order to identify the incoming material quality and tune the process parameters. A loading system will carry the material to be treated in the semi-automatic oven, and a subsequent robotised unloading system will sort the material and handle it to further compaction, sizing and further optimisation.
The Re-Lam methodology is a low cost method for the recycling of flat CRFP laminates. It uses lower temperatures (380 °C) over a time span 2 minutes and hence fairly standard (cheap) ovens. The oven treatment is similar to a mild flame treatment of the flat laminate surface. The polymers in the surface will be degraded. The expected benefit is that the fibers in the surface will be uncovered hence creating an increased surface roughness. It is hoped that the bond strength will be good after remanufacturing using RTM or vacuum infusion. The competing procedure would be to use abrasive machining plus adhesive bonding. It should be cheaper to replace this with a simple oven treatment. Therefore the result is a surface treatment and bonding of flat laminates.
Life cycle analysis
In the last decades increasing concern for environmental impact made market demands focused not only on efficiency, quality and costs, but also on improved eco-friendliness in all the life stages of products from raw materials to manufacturing and use to disposal.
Current tools devoted to LCA analysis are expensive, complicated and therefore have very low market penetration. The LCC/LCA tools developed in REFORM will address this. Economic aspects are taking into account through the LCC module since it is not possible to consider environmental aspects alone to have a product/process competitive on the market.
The LCC/LCA tool is Excel-based, it requires little to no training and aims to be affordable for the average SME.The whole product life cycle is considered, from raw materials extraction to end-of-life disposal, taking into account the different probable scenarios of re-using or recycling for the materials and products under consideration. Different recycling methods will be integrated into the design by considering end-of-life disposal, sustainability, maintenance and waste management.
The material database developed within REFORM project includes composites and data on recycled carbon fibres. Nonetheless the tool can be used in many different sectors and the database tailored/extended according to the production requirements. Since costs connected to maintenance represent a relevant share of the overall costs, the LCC model includes R&M dependant parameters such as Mean Time To Failure, Mean Time To Repair, cost of repair, loss of production due to downtime and maintenance contract types.
The LCA is carried out considering few widely recognised, aggregate indicators such as CO2 footprint to have a user friendly tool, keeping its cost affordable but allowing reliable comparison among various situations, including conventional and non-conventional processes. This result has a high potential impact since low cost and ease of use can guarantee a high market penetration.
Reliability simulation methods
The increasing awareness for environmental issues, the attempt to reduce the amount of landfill and the minimisation of wasted resources have prompt the transformation from a classic cradle-to-grave economy to a cycle economy where material recovery options, from recycling to remanufacturing and reuse, are favoured. If the whole machine reuse is not possible, the next best thing is the reuse of subassemblies or components in new systems or as spare parts. This is theoretically more feasible, at least for technologically stable products, since the mean life of components often exceeds the one of the whole machine.
Because the residual life of items is strictly related to their reliability , a methodology for “reliability assessment for re-use” is proposed, based on components remaining life information coming out from statistical analysis and from the analysis of data gathered on the field (condition monitoring). In order to have a more realistic statistical analysis, aging and wear effects on failures are taken into consideration.
The comprehensive statistical approach suggested to evaluate component mean life can be divided into four or five steps:
1. Hierarchical-morphological decomposition of the machine into its most significant basic components (top-down)
2. Description of the relationship between the components using models to be implemented into proper simulation software
3. Assignment of components failure and repair properties
4. Simulation to calculate R&M properties of the whole system following a bottom-up logic, including mean functional life
5. Preventive tasks can be included to optimize the interval between maintenance actions in order to minimise life cycle costs connected to maintenance or to maximise availability.
Business Framework
The business framework here developed aims to be an evaluation tool which will help companies to decide whether or not to implement new composite technologies within their factories, mapping the assessment results of individual technologies to get an enterprise-wide perspective of the impact of the total range of technologies in the manufacturing organisation. It is based on a tool kit of analysis methods including the business strategy, eco-efficiency indicators and cost analysis.
In order to have a big impact on the market KPIs to be considered are productivity, cost and scrap reduction at a high level but also energy reduction, and therefore the improvement in eco-efficiency.
This tool’s main impact will be related to the spreading of new and more environmental friendly technologies, since it enables also composites SMEs, who often do not have technology capability managers or the resources to evaluate possibilities, to make trade-offs and consider green solutions.

Potential Impact:
The impact of the different REFORM technologies can be estimated with respect to their impact on the industrial case studies and the exploitation activities underway. In most cases, REFORM has exceeded the estimated green impacts of each technology and has also delivered processes which have a shown time- and cost-saving, making them attractive to industry. Two results, the RE_FORM boards and the augmented reality layup are both low-cost and will not be protected. The RE-FORM boards in particular can be used in many sectors for parts, fixtures and new products and are expected to have a high impact in terms of waste reduction, improved quality (when used as fixtures for composites) and reduction in use of virgin material.
Tape-layup was shown to reduce curing energy and virgin material use for up to 50% for the right part. Augmented reality can reduce scrap by 15% and can also be used for quality control purposes. The waterjet developments reduced all indicators by 75%.
Recycling of the carbon fibres is in this moment of highest interest in many industrial sectors, not only due to the effect of legislation, but also because of the lower costs and the availability of material on the market. The size of the market for carbon fibre products is steadily increasing with an actual size of about 3 billion €. Large aerospace companies and wind turbines manufacturers are the big consumers of virgin carbon fibres, and the availability of material after the manufacturing processes as scrap to be reused as well as out of service parts allows for the creation of a tangible market of components made with recycled material.
Potential markets for the use of recycled carbon fibres are the automotive, sporting and leisure goods, civil and naval construction, where the requirements in terms of mechanical performance are still high, but the possibility to reduce the production costs and reach the customer with a lower priced solution offers new opportunities for revenues. In some cases new markets are opening, for example using recycled carbon fibres instead of virgin glass fibres in low cost (compared to virgin CF) products in the naval sector.
The recycling industry is looking for several ways to minimise costs and obtain savings where possible; a few recycling plants have been already set up as well as alternative methods for the recovering of the fibres have been tested by specialised companies. The sector is ready to make investments and therefore to react quickly in the short term (e.g. 2 years).
Therefore it is predictable that new jobs opportunities will be created, and worldwide new recycling plants setup, possibly close to the manufacturers in order to reduce transportation costs and the environmental burden.
A full analysis was done for two case study parts which between them used all of the technologies developed in REFORM. The impact of the technology was measured across 10 impact indicators including acidification, global warming, ozone depletion, human toxicity and eco-toxicity. The use of REFORM technologies on these parts reduced the indicators by 5%-30%, with the most dramatic results being for resource use (30%) and eco-system quality (20%).
The impact in terms of energy and waste-savings as well as time and cost savings for the different REFORM results, ranked by eco-benefit can be summarised as follows:
1. Re-Fib methodology with a market price of 4 € / kg. Can be exploited in the automotive, marine and consumer goods sectors. The industrial benefits are 50-80 % lowered material cost. In terms of throughput, it takes 10-30 % more manhours than conventional scrapping and use of virgin materials, but 70-80 % of used materials can be recovered and it takes 10% of the energy to produce as virgin material.
2. Re-Lam methodology - 1 € / kg unit cost. Can be exploited in the automotive, marine and consumer goods sectors. The advantages are 10-20 % lowered material cost. Manufacture of this material uses 10% energy of manufacturing virgin laminates. Can recover flat sections of structures (10-20 % of those tested).
3. RE-PREG, RE-FORM Boards. These can be used in the manufacturing sector by users of composites, composite fixtures, composite parts, flat-pack market. The industrial benefits are reduced material costs of 30% -40%, reduced storage weight (50%) and volume (80%); and for fixtures, there is an increase in aprt quality as they will match the product CTE. The Eco-benefit is the use of waste offcuts (30% of all material produced) to form marketable products.
4. Water and abrasive recycling system. End-user can save 30k€ over 10 years from reduced maintenance, garnet and biocide. They will also save time spent on set-up and cutting rather than shoveling grit. Eco-benefits include water savings of (95%), abrasive reuse (90%) and elimination of biocides with a knock-on effect on mining and transport of these materials.
5. Control system, parameters and handbook for laser-assisted tape-layup. This will be of interest to fibre-placement machine builders / composite manufactures in various industries and will be attractive due to the reduced capital cost because an oven is not required. Ecologically, the technology can reduce the energy needed to set resin by 50%, and can reduce material use as less virgin material is required for complex parts.
6. Augmented reality ply positioning system - open source. This will be of interest to composite manufacturers with potential for other market sectors e.g assembly. Industrial benefits are reduced layup time and fewer scrapped parts due to incorrect ply-sequencing. The eco-benefits are a reduction in production of primary material required and reduced number of parts scrapped
7. Monitoring system for AWJ to ensure cut quality. This result will be of interest to waterjet manufacturers and users. The industrial benefit will be that damage to the workpiece through worn machine components and failures will be prevented and maintenance downtime will be decreased by 15%-20%. Te ecological benefit is that fewer pieces will be scrapped.
8. AWJ cutting model (jet lag, taper, roughness), parameter window for good quality cut. This will be of interest to waterjet machine manufacturers, CAM developers and end users. The industrial benefit is reduced scrap ad cutting time as correct parameter selection can improve throughput by 400%. Energy will be saved through this reduced processing time.
9. Commercial system for the separation of carbon fibres in a cost efficient way. This will be of interest to recyclers and component manufactures. Energy will be saved through the of a lower temperature oven and will lead to a new, marketable product.
10. Conversion of the hydrocarbon thermo- set into a marketable product. This is of interest to automotive CFRP producers due to the estimated 30% cost savings they can achieve by using material which has been recycled. Ecological benefits are that material is recycled rather than scrapped and less virgin material required.
11. Novel nozzle design. This will be of interest to waterjet manufacturers. The industrial and ecological benefits are linked. The nozzle will allow reduced energy use because the cutting time can be halved.
12. Chip extraction system for FRP machining will be of interest to waterjet end users and machine manufacturers and will allow the hybrid machine to be used, with all its benefits. This result will also lead to reduced H&S and cleaning costs and will improve worker health / the workplace environment.
13. New AWJ cutting head will be of interest to waterjet manufacturers and users. Attaching probes will reduce processing time and set-up time dramatically and increased accuracy will lead to reduced scrap
14. AWJ 5-axis taper compensation for 3D waterjet cutting will be of interest to waterjet because it allows increased productivity and reduced process time. This leads to reduced energy use (linked to process time) and increased accuracy through reduced scrap.
15. AWJ fixturing system will be of interest to waterjet because it allows grate-replacement costs to be reduced and time replacing them to be saved. Grates will not be scrapped when one section is cut through
16. CAD/CAM software for composite machining on hybrid AWJ, including parameters will be of interest to waterjet end-users – especially those cutting CFRP due to reduced tool costs and cutting time. Tool-life can be trebled.
17. Residual life estimation of FRP production equipment will be of interest to manufacturers and users of such equipment due to an estimated 15-20% cost and downtime reduction through identification of critical components and maintenance strategy optimisation and 10-15% energy and waste saved through optimisation of maintenance
18. Eco-audit procedure of interest to manufacturers of production equipment of composites. 10-15% energy and waste saved through identification of critical process steps.
19. LCC/LCA toolof interest to manufacturers of production equipment of composites. 15-20% cost reduction and 20% energy and waste saved through identification of critical process steps.
20. Business Framework for new composite technologies of interest to as it will allow them to avoid expensive mistakes. Decision time will be reduced
A number of exploitation activities have been carried out. Partners have done early exploitation of a number of results (RE-FORM boards, waterjet results, LCC tool) through consultancy activities leading to increased turnover. A number of partners are in talks with patent firms to commercialise and sell their ideas.
• Fraunhofer are in discussion to sell two of their tape-laying machines
• Sheffield are in talks with AR software companies to ensure that their systems are compatible. The system will be open-source to maximise take-up
• Nova are commercialising and patenting the waterjet and garnet recycling machine
• Tecnalia are installing prototypes of the waterjet monitoring system
• Moduleworks are commercialising the waterjet CAM system and expanding into a new market
• Sheffield are using their results in consultancy and in provision of turnkey waterjet cutting solutions in the aerospace and wind-energy sectors and are investigating patents for some results
• DVST are using their results in consultancy in the aerospace sector and investigating patents for some results while making others freely available to maximise take-up.
• Sicomp are investigating patents and trademarks for ReFib and ReLam
Dissemination activities include the website set up at the start of the project which is used to publicise news and events, publications in peer reviewed journals and at conferences, production of banners and flyer, which have been used at tradeshows and dissemination events. REFORM has been active on twitter and linked in and produced a number of videos. A full list of activities has been uploaded to the portal. In addition, a number of clustering events were carried out, including joint training, attendance at trade fairs, presentations and the production of a leaflet and banner. A joint technical demonstration is underway between REFORM, ENEPLAN and EMC2-Factory, and the Clean Manufacturing cluster or which REFORM is a founder member is also part of the FOCUS CSA. REFORM is also part of the Carbon Fibre Technology cluster and was represented in the winner of the best-poster award at the EUNanoForums.

List of Websites:
www.reform.eu.com
Contact the Coordinator, Dr Rosemary Gault at r.gault@sheffield.ac.uk

Related information

Contact

Rosemary Gault, (Eu projects coordinator)
Tel.: +44 7798 570599
E-mail

Subjects

Economic Aspects
Record Number: 184766 / Last updated on: 2016-06-27