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INNOvative RTM TOOLing FOR CFRP primary structural parts

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - INNOTOOL 4.0 (INNOvative RTM TOOLing FOR CFRP primary structural parts)

Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2021-03-31

INNOTOOL 4.0 have received funding from CLEANSKY 2 initiative for the development and implementation of an innovative efficient RTM tool

The technical feasibility of composite materials in critical landing gear structures has been proven during the last decade.

Nevertheless, the next challenge is currently to achieve not only higher weight and cost efficiency but also larger sizes.

Since the use of high-pressure resin injection manufacturing technologies, such as resin transfer molding (RTM), is key to achieve the required quality and affordability, larger component sizes also result in larger and heavier tools.

Large tools could become bottlenecks in the manufacturing chain, due to their high weight which results in handling and cleaning difficulties, high energy consumption (for both heating and cooling) and expensive equipment setups.

The relatively low manufacturing rates and the higher safety requirements of aerospace products make the investment in equipment less affordable.

Therefore, RTM tooling for large products requires investigation in other technologies, to be effective and affordable

The benefit of society can be represented in two ways:

A landing gear lighter than the current ones leads the aircraft to be more efficient to consume less fuel and so to generate less CO2

As well, in the same sense, more energy-efficient processes improve the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process

For those reasons, the project objective was to develop robustly, wear-resistant, as lightweight as possible, low-cost tooling with an integrated dynamic controlled electric heating system, that is suitable for high-pressure resin injection processes and complex shaped products.

The innovative tool has been achieved, together with the first steps of the intelligent RTM process.

INNOTOOL 4.0 has fully achieved the proposed target of the lighter tool, more efficient, with energy savings of about 30%.
The tooling achieved allows manufacturing of a complex shape, hollow CFRP part with an approximate envelope size of 1900 x 500 x 200 mm.

In order to achieve the targets, the Topic Manager provided the necessary information such as:
• CAD Part geometry
• Material details
• Manufacturing process details

During this reporting period the following work has been carried out:

a) Mould manufacturing finished
b) Injection machine finished
c) Curing and resin sensors integrated to injection machine finished
d) Mould tested and delivered to the topic manager
e) System injection machine and mould tested by injection trials and sensors signal measurement and integrated to machine data
Achieved results are:
• Withstand high tool internal pressures (up to 20 bars),
• Operate in industrial manufacturing environments with manufacturing rates of up to 500 parts/year,
• Achieving a significant reduction in energy consumption of about 30%
• Getting improved handling (e.g. limiting the need for expensive equipment),
• Providing modularity,
• Providing the flexibility of re-use (e.g. to manufacture product variants with the same set of tools),
• Target applications such as large CFRP components (with associated low CTE),
• Demonstration on a composite landing gear component developed within the HECOLAG project.

Taking in mind the Clean Sky 2 main objectives, the proposal is perfectly in line and harmonized with the key pillars defined in H2020, and specifically because it has:

1. Developed efficient transport that respects the environment,
and will:
2. Ensure safe and seamless mobility,
3. Build industrial leadership in Europe

Impact with respect to science and technology are expected as INNOTOOL 4.0 addressed a key issue of extensive use of out-of-autoclave composite with aerospace relevance. The R&D work will generate new scientific knowledge as well as new technologies, and thus strengthen the European positions in this field.

The consortium excels in the area of capabilities in the management of large, international, and interdisciplinary R&D projects over basic science to industrial implementation. INNOTOOL 4.0 will also provide an outstanding platform to train a new generation of highly qualified personnel, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates, and technical staff.

Students and personnel involved in the proposed research have been exposed to a world-class research and development environment, in which industry leaders and SME expertise worked together to realize the same objectives of making SMEs more competitive.
View of software developed for the injection machine