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Materials, Process and CAE Tools Developments for Pre-impregnated Carbon Binder Yarn Preform Composites

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The sky’s the limit – or is it?

EU researchers have developed new materials and processes for enhanced performance and decreased costs associated with structural components in aircraft. The results are applicable not only to high-end, sky-bound vehicles, but to those travelling on the ground and in the water as well.

Industrial Technologies

Composites are combinations of at least two chemically distinct materials that build on the individual properties of each – the result is greater than simply the sum of the parts. Typically, one material is malleable while the other is very strong. Composites have superior weight/performance characteristics compared to metals and are widely used in the production of many aircraft components. Currently, composites for the aerospace industry use either moulding materials already infused with a synthetic resin (pre-impregnated materials or prepregs) or resin infusion of dry fabrics (liquid composite moulding or LCM). Prepreg composites demonstrate superior mechanical properties but suffer from limited malleability, high cost and short shelf life. LCM technologies can overcome many of the limitations, but typically at the expense of mechanical performance. The ‘Materials, Process and CAE Tools Developments for Pre-impregnated Carbon Binder Yarn Preform Composites’ (Precarbi) project was designed to develop new materials and supporting technologies for producing composites by combining prepreg and LCM methods. To this end, the researchers developed prepreg carbon fibres with a polymer binder yarn formulation for use in LCM. The binder yarns enhance mechanical properties and have an indefinite shelf life. The use of modelling and optimisation tools developed for the EU-funded Precarbi project is expected to lead to cost saving as a result of leaner designs and reduction of lead time (‘first time right’) associated with reduced manufacturing costs. Implementation of the research results by industrial partners will help to fine-tune the modelling and production processes. The new materials and technologies developed by the investigators for pre-impregnated carbon binder yarn preform composites also promise superior performance of composite materials for high-end applications. These include but are not limited to those in the aerospace, automotive and marine sectors. Thus, thanks to innovations provided by the Precarbi project, future air, land and sea vehicles may be able to carry more and cost less while decreasing both fuel consumption and emissions.

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21 October 2020