All the goals fixed at the starting of the project were substantially achieved.
In the preliminary research program, thermosetting and thermoplastic PVA binder were chosen to hold together the roving fibre before putting the whole preform in the mould. The latter one seemed more attractive for more easy handling.
A software program was specifically designed and implemented in Fortran to recollect data from the structural analysis of the composite: it reads the results, verifies that none of the stresses would be greater than the admissible ones, and in such cases indicates where further fibre reinforcements must be placed.
A survey on the objective and on the possible exploitation of the machine, joined with the earlier results of this research, helped to design the prototype of the FPS, which was successfully developed and built.
The production of the earlier preforms has already been started, and the physical and mechanical characterisation of the new preforms is currently running. The reference product for these tests is the roof panel for Iveco trucks currently manufactured at Sistema Compositi.
Physical test evidenced similar properties for both preforms, with a little lesser permeability of the new preform. This result could lead to a shorter injection time, but tests performed at the industrial RTM plant at Sistema Compositi no longer support that theses. Composites manufactured with the new preforms show similar mechanical properties at any test.
This project presents a new automated preforming manufacture system, called Flexible Preforming System (FPS), enabling production of complex three-dimensional preforms using several glassfiber reinforcements.
Compared to present preforming systems FPS permits freedom of design, maximized mechanical properties and repeatable/consistent quality of the preformed composites.
In order to manufacture the preforms as fast as possible, the project will provide a novel mathematical model to calculate the optimum path of the FPS' feed head, needed to deposit continuous glassfiber on every assigned performing surface, and to calculate the preforming process parameters needed to execute the path.
The major research tasks of the project are:
1. Definition of continuous fiber FPS and associated range of fundamental process parameters.
2. Development of a mathematical model and software package useful for simulating and controlling the deposition phase of continuous fibers on the preform template.
3. Development of binders necessary for preforming.
4. Design and manufacture of an FPS prototype for the deposition of continuous fibers.
5. Evaluation of FPS and of the final properties of the obtainable composite products.
Successful completion should yield a reduction of the finished premforms cost on the order of 60%.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts