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24th May 2016, Runcorn

New project to drive development of 3D woven textile composites in UK aerospace industry

Currently, the use of 3D textile composites in aerospace industry is held back by a lack of analysis techniques.  The Breakthrough Aerospace Materials project, known as BAM, commenced in March 2016. The three-year ATI project looks to advance the manufacturing techniques and simulation of 3D textiles in the UK and to make them commercially available to the aerospace industry.

Currently, the use of 3D textile composites is held back by a lack of analysis techniques that are able to accurately predict weave architectures and the resulting processing and structural performance, Sigmatex reports.

Led by Sigmatex, BAM joins UK based aerospace companies BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce along with ESI, MSC Software, Antich & Sons, M. Wright & Sons, Teledyne CML Composites and three UK 3D woven technology leading Universities – Nottingham, Manchester and Bristol.

Project goals

The expected benefits of the project will include structural lightweighting, reduced manufacturing and inherent assembly costs. The project will identify and address the barriers that limit the scope of use and market penetration of 3D textiles. Suitable components and features will be investigated and used to develop and validate predictive software for the simulation of 3D textiles.  

Manufacturing processes will be assessed and optimised to manufacture various elements of a typical test pyramid to compare simulation predictions with component performance.

Project lead

Sigmatex, the leading project partner, develops and manufactures technical textiles predominately carbon for fibre reinforced composite material applications.

From global locations, Sigmatex supplies carbon fibre textiles including 3D, Spread Tow, Innegra, recycled, unidirectional, multiaxial, and 2D woven solutions across a broad spread of sectors that includes automotive, aerospace, marine, construction and sports and leisure.

Antich & Sons

C&J Antich & Sons was founded in 1989 and supplies up to 40,000 metres of fine worsted fabrics per week to the retail and corporate sectors, using a fully computerised operation with statistical process and quality control systems.

The company has a strong focus on advanced technology and was responsible, with the Huddersfield Textile Centre of Excellence and Griffith Textile Machines, for the development of an advanced 3D weaving machine for producing three dimensional preforms direct from the loom. 

BAE Systems

BAE Systems MAI has a long history of airframe design and production manufacture for primary aircraft structures. Currently, MAI has the most comprehensive suite of advanced airframe manufacturing facilities in the UK, where we undertake the design, manufacture and qualification of a complex and diverse product portfolio, consisting of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS), Trainer aircraft and Fast Jets.

Teledyne CML Composites

Teledyne CML Composites provides a composites manufacturing service in advanced engineering applications, including components and assemblies for aircraft structures and systems.

ESI

ESI is a provider of Virtual Prototyping software and services with a strong foundation in the physics of materials and Virtual Manufacturing. The company is helping industrial manufacturers replace physical prototypes by virtually replicating the fabrication, assembly and testing of products in different environments.

M. Wright & Sons

M Wright & Sons Ltd is a technical weaving manufacturer. For composite applications, the company develops a range of dry fabrics and preforms for composite reinforcement, including complex woven 3D structures.

MSC Software

MSC Software is one of the ten original software companies and a leader in multidiscipline simulation. The company helps companies improve quality, save time, and reduce costs associated with design and test of manufactured products.

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce’s vision is to be the market-leader in high performance power systems where its engineering expertise, global reach and deep industry knowledge can help deliver outstanding solutions. Rolls-Royce operates across five businesses: Civil Aerospace, Defence Aerospace, Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems. 

Academic partners

Northwest Composites Centre at the University of Manchester and its commercial arm National Composites Certification and Evaluation Facility were set up with funding from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA). In addition to serving the short-term testing and manufacturing needs, the centre participates in a number of collaborative R&D programmes.

The Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science (ACCIS) at the University of Bristol is based in the Faculty of Engineering and also links to the Science and Medical Faculties. It is a leading centre for composites education and research, combining cutting edge fundamental science with strong industrial links for exploitation and technology transfer.

Finally, the University of Nottingham is one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015.

www.sigmatex.com

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