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SIMUTOOL Report Summary

Project ID: 680569

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SIMUTOOL (Integrated design and novel tooling and process optimisation of microwave processing of composites)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The main concept of SIMUTOOL is the full modelling and simulation of the MW heating process using a combination of established modelling software packages (for the physicochemical phenomena) and CAD/CAE software packages which take into account the MW oven, novel tool, interactions of MWs with all the materials inside the oven, modelling of the feedback loop control, and optimisation of the process. The final aim is to offer a modelling and simulation toolset of the MW heating process to the composites industry that does not exist today. Such a toolset will provide a comprehensive insight into the physical and chemical phenomena that occur during the process. It will enable industries to take full advantage of the MW heating process.
The project objectives are summarised below:
• Build a process simulator for the interaction of the tool and composite material with MW energy (coupled electromagnetic/heat transfer modelling).
• Understand the process control loop in the MW oven (temperature control through MW power output).
• Design and build a ceramic matrix composite tool with a durable MW absorbing layer so that:
o The bulk of the tool is transparent to MWs.
o Heating is directed to the composite part and not to the whole tool.
• Monitor the manufacturing process through dielectric sensors.
• Integrate simulation/production data management.
• Production of composite parts using 30% less energy compared to conventional processes.
• Integrate the MW heating process with automated fibre placement technology.
• Develop a dielectric property measuring system which takes measurements of both solid and liquid samples at MW frequency (2.45GHz) and at elevated temperatures.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the 18 months of the reporting period from 1 September 2015 to 28 February 2017, work has been carried out mostly according to the original plan. Details of the work and the results are as follows.
Work Package (WP) 1: Manufacturing process simulator
The electromagnetic field of the HEPHAISTOS CA1 MW oven was simulated. The hexagonal oven cavity, alongside the 12 waveguides, was included. Heat flux sensors were also modelled in order for the process simulator to be able to predict the response of these sensors during processing.
The models developed were translated into the first version of the process simulator. The design of the simulator user interface was based on input requirements from the end users, who provided guidelines on how best to simulate the ceramic matrix composite tool in order for the simulator to be used as a design application for the tool (for example, isolate the MW absorbing layer so that the impact of different layer thicknesses can be simulated).

Work Package 2: Materials selection and characterisation
As dielectric measurements of reinforcement, resin, and composite at MW frequency and at elevated temperatures are not available in the literature, a new dielectric measuring system was designed and developed. This dielectric analysis system is able to a) make the measurements at MW frequency (2.45GHz) at elevated temperature, and b) accommodate both liquid and solid MUTs (material under testing). The measurement technique used is a transmission-line waveguide method with air-dielectric-air layer configuration. The MUT can be 40 x 40 x 50mm, which allows capture of the anisotropic nature of short and long fibre composites. The ability to heat up the MUT in-situ enables measurement of permittivity at different stages of its cure cycle. The system assessment is ongoing.

Work Package 3: Knowledge transfer from simulation to production
The objectives of WP3 are:
• Bridge the gap between virtual and real production.
• Use the simulation platform in order to build a knowledge base of production scenarios.
• Initiate the knowledge transfer from the simulation phase to the production phase.
Digital manufacturing organisations (SIMUTOOL being an example) thrive on data and digital information. Simulations produce data and take input CAD models and parameters; modern control systems utilise sensor data and control models, and finally, since everything uses or creates information and data, there is a role required to efficiently manage all this data and to intelligently index and link all this data. An ICT system fulfilling such a role can be termed as a Data-intensive Knowledge Management system (DiKM).

Work Package 4: Manufacturing process control
In order to develop the manufacturing process control loop, and hence the SIMUTOOL simulator v2.0, a regularised formulation has been implemented in the simulation module in order to be able to take into account the complex electric field distribution at the boundary of the domain. Interface discontinuity has also been taken into account. Examples have been given in order to demonstrate the capabilities of the in-plane-out-of-plane separated representation chosen to solve the curl-curl regularised formulation in the laminate composite part.
Further works are to be carried out in order to integrate the proper geometry of the part inside the mould. In addition, the coupling between CEM-One software and the SIMUTOOL simulation module is also being developed.

Work Package 5: Manufacturing process design
The manufacturing process design has been initiated and is ongoing. The majority of the work is scheduled to be carried out in the second period of the project. However, in order to carry out the work under WP3, WP5 was initiated ahead of schedule. Tooling material has been chosen and the initial tools for 2D demonstrators are being prepared and manufactured.

Work Package 6: Implementation and Demonstration
The implementation and demonstration of WP6 are

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The expected final results are:
1. Process simulator for the interaction of the tool and composite material with the MW energy (coupled electromagnetic/heat transfer modelling).
2. Process control loop in MW oven (temperature control through MW power output).
3. The process for designing and building a ceramic matrix composite tool with a durable MW absorbing layer so that:
• The bulk of the tool is transparent to MWs.
• Heating is directed to the composite part and not to the whole tool.
4. Monitor process for the manufacturing process using MW heating through dielectric sensors.
5. Integrated simulation/production data management system.
6. Integrate the MW heating process with automated fibre placement technology:
• For automotive short fibre placement and preforming.
• For aerospace filament finding and infusion.
7. Dielectric properties measuring system, which make measurements at MW frequency (2.45GHz) and elevated temperatures up to 400⁰C of both solid and liquid samples.

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