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Reinforcing textile composites

Plastics reinforced with textiles for strength without weight are particularly attractive to the aerospace industry. EU-funded researchers developed a design and analysis tool that should enhance widespread use of such reinforcement.
Reinforcing textile composites
High strength and stiffness together with low weight are among the characteristics of aerospace components that make them particularly attractive for reinforced composites. Such composites have a fibrous matrix within their structure that provides extra strength at low density.

Conventionally, fibreglass (also known as glass fibre-reinforced polymer, GFRP) was the first choice for aerospace technology. Environmental concerns related to the use of GFRPs have brought attention to natural fibre-reinforced and textile-reinforced composites.

Three-dimensional (3D) fibre textile reinforcement for polymer composites is relatively new and demonstrates numerous properties superior to conventional 2D structures.

However, many issues impede more widespread use of 3D fibre textile reinforcement, among them the lack of an appropriate design and analysis tool. Attempting to fill this need, European scientists initiated the ‘Integrated tool for simulation of textile composites’ (ITOOL) project.

Researchers used a multi-level approach incorporating simulation of micro-, meso- and macrostructure properties and behaviours. The 3D fibre architectures evaluated were produced by weaving, braiding and stitching.

ITOOL was designed to incorporate simulation of the entire manufacturing and processing chain and enable detailed analysis of mechanical performance of the product including failure, damage and high strain rate behaviours.

The ITOOL team identified fundamental structural elements and manufacturing methods leading to delineation of design guidelines and protocols.

Overall, ITOOL proved to be a cost-effective design and analysis tool geared toward 3D textile reinforcement of polymers for the aerospace industry. Its commercial use should enhance the use of textile preforming for composites with potentially significant reductions in required testing effort and new product lead time.

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