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Prepeg production of aluminium matrix composites

The aim of the project is to investigate advanced aluminium matrix composites, obtained via the prepeg route, for applications in aerospace structures (carbon/aluminium) and heat engines (silicon carbide/aluminium).
The programme has 4 steps:
prepeg processing;
characterisation of the prepegs;
composite processing;
characterisation of the composites.

For prepeg production an equipment for fibre spreading and coating was developed. The equipment for fibre spreading has already successfully been demonstrated. Coating of the fibres with pure aluminium is performed in a physical vapour deposition (PVD) process. The equipment for continuous prepeg production has been developed.

Basic investigation to characterise the prepeg and the fibre/matrix interactions occuring during consolidation of the composite from the prepeg stage was performed. Due to the manufacturing temperature a reduction of the mechanical properties can be observed, as a result of the formation of aluminium carbide.

The results achieved give rise to the assumption, that if an optimised manufacturing process can be used, sufficiently good mechanical properties retain in the composite, without the necessity of carbon fibre coating.

The progress achieved up to now has shown that composite materials can be produced via the prepeg route. The work in the future has to concentrate on further improving the quality of the prepeg, the manufacturing processes, and to better understand fibre/matrix interactions. After these problems can be solved successfully a material is available, which can be used for space structures.


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