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Simulation Based Solutions for Industrial Manufacture of Large Infusion Composite Parts

Final Report Summary - INFUCOMP (Simulation Based Solutions for Industrial Manufacture of Large Infusion Composite Parts)

Executive Summary:
Today, advanced composites use either layers of plies impregnated with resin (pre-pregs) to form a laminate, or Liquid Composites Moulding (e.g. RTM) of dry textiles. Prepreg composites give superior mechanical properties due to toughened resins and high fibre content, but suffer from high material costs, limited drapeability, complex, expensive and time consuming manufacturing, and limited materials shelf life. Infusion technologies can overcome these limitations, but are not fully industrialised and rely on costly prototype testing due to the lack of simulation tools. Current infusion simulation technologies are approximate and really only suited to small scale components based on adaptations of Resin Transfer Moulding simulation; they are not accurate for large, thick and complex aerospace composites, where one sided tooling and vacuum membranes cause complex 3D heat/flow processes.
The INFUCOMP project will develop the full simulation chain from preform design to manufacture (infusion), process/part optimisation and final part defects/mechanical performance prediction with a focus on the infusion step. The project covers all popular Liquid Resin Infusion (LRI) methods currently used in the Aerospace industry. Although focus is on aerospace applications, the work will be very relevant to other industries. The proposed technologies will allow economical manufacture of high performance, integrated, large scale composite structures; thus, positively contributing to their increased use. Benefits include lower cost, improved performance, greater payloads and fuel/emissions reductions.
A team of four aircraft manufacturers, a materials manufacturer, university and industry researchers, and a commercial software specialists; all with a recognised track record in this field; one partner is an SME.