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30th August 2018, Sheffield

UK’s largest radial braider at the AMRC

The largest radial triaxial braider in the UK is currently being installed at the University of Sheffield’s AMRC. © AMRCThe largest radial triaxial braider in the UK is currently being installed at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to support the development of complex lightweight preforms for automotive, aerospace and other weight sensitive industries.

The equipment supplied by Germany’s Herzog – widely recognised as the global market and technology leader in braiding equipment – is part of a collection of state-of-the-art equipment purchased by the AMRC with funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

The giant six-metre-diameter braiding system paves the way for the development of complex architectures and features with dry fibre technology, offering the ability to tailor orientations to suit structural requirements as well as allowing both off axis and axial fibres to be laid simultaneously at the deposition rates required for high volume manufacture.

A wide range of materials can be used with the radial braider including carbon, thermoplastic, glass, aramid and co-mingled tows. It is also capable of processing difficult ceramic fibres such as alumina and silicon carbide.

It has widespread application for components used in aerospace and automotive, helping with the production of fuel pipes and wing spars and numerous car body structure parts. It will also be available to support Dowty Propeller’s multimillion pound Digital Propulsion project to develop future turboprop solutions.

“The radial element is a primary feature of the braider as it means less fibre damage and more complex geometry is achievable due to the fact the fibres come down in a flat disc rather than a long cone,” says Chris McHugh, AMRC dry fibre development manager. “The machine is also six-axis with two robots. Quite often one robot is attached to a braider, but the AMRC is putting two heavy duty robots either side of the braiding ring. The two six-axis robots working in tandem means that heavy parts and mandrels can be processed, and not just foam cores. It is also able to handle more delicate or less stiff cores, due to the additional support.”

The technology, which is open to research projects for AMRC members, external companies and grant funded projects, can be combined with any of the other technologies at the AMRC, including the 1000T Rhodes press and KraussMaffei RTM equipment.

The braider’s arrival follows the delivery of a 3D weaving loom and jacquard currently under construction. Other cutting edge equipment includes through-thickness permeability testing, tailored fibre placement, a high temperature-high tension filament winder, tow-spreading machine and robotic end effectors for automated handling.

The AMRC is on the lookout for companies to work with on collaborative research and development projects using the braiding system. Contact Chris McHugh by emailing [email protected].

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