Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer composites (CFRPs) constitute a highly profitable market in EU’s economy. Their high stiffness and strength and low density allow engineers to design lightweight structures with a lower carbon footprint than conventional metallic ones. Nonetheless, CFRPs hold two main drawbacks which hinder their exploitation in industry: 1) poor damage and impact tolerance; and 2) limited design space due to the lack of robust design tools and the limited capability of past manufacturing technologies. This 2-year fellowship tackles these drawbacks by developing novel bio-inspired, tailorable and healable multi-impact resistant CFRTP (BIOTHECT) structures. BIOTHECT uses helicoidal layups to minimise fibre breakage during impact and a thermoplastic matrix to enable healing. BIOTHECT structures address current industrial needs for lower maintenance costs, sustainability and weight savings. A novel numerical tool will be developed to understand and design BIOTHECT structures with unique performances. Optimal BIOTHECT structures will be manufactured, tested and analysed through detailed damage analyses to develop the design tool to unprecedented accuracy. The fine-tuned design tool will be translated to industry-friendly packages for direct exploitation. Finally, in the context of the digital industry, the project explores the use of automated manufacturing technologies, 3D printing, to tailor BIOTHECT designs locally in larger conventional structures. This novel design aims at creating macro-components with locally improved damage tolerance without a weight increase, hence leading to lower manufacturing waste and lighter structures. The fellowship will take place at KU Leuven with a 4-month secondment at the Thermoplastic Composites Research Center (NL). Training plan, technical work packages, exploitation, dissemination and communication activities will work together to lead the ER to cover a leading role in his own research group in or out of academia.
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