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6th February 2019, Bristol

New large-scale resin infusion capabilities at NCC

Large Scale Resin Infuser. © NCC

Large Scale Resin Infuser. © NCC

The National Composites Centre (NCC) and Composite Integration celebrate the successful completion of a year-long project to design and deliver a state-of-the-art, first of its kind, Large Scale Resin Infusion (LSRI) technology. This innovative system has been designed to meet the R&D demands of both aerospace and wind industry manufacturing where components can range from 17m up to 120m in length.

Liquid Composite Moulding (LCM) is one of the core competencies of the NCC and High-Value manufacturing in the UK. It is used to produce high integrity composite parts, without the need for an autoclave. Using Liquid Composite Moulding, fibres are first assembled dry into a mould, resin is then pumped into the fibres and drawn through under vacuum prior to being cured in an oven.

The NCC identified the need to procure a Large Scale Resin Infusion (LSRI) capability as part of its iCAP Programme, a £36.7 million investment in ten digital manufacturing technologies being installed at the NCC to directly stimulate and support composites innovation, manufacturing and research development programmes across a range of sectors.

The acquisition of the LSRI equipment from South West -based SME, Composite Integration, an expert in this field, will enable the NCC to widen the applicability of LCM processes to a wider range of components. The first application of this exciting technology will be to enable infusion of complete wing components as part of next generation wing technology developments.

The new capability, now available to companies across the UK, offers a robust means of LSRI and is capable of injecting high resin volumes into a variety of preforms – primarily, but not limited to, using a vacuum bagged set up. This modular machine has additional flexibility to process both single or two-part resin systems and will be teamed with a 20m oven to enable cure of those resins. Together they will create a step change in the production of high quality, high fibre volume fraction composite parts.

The wealth of data collected by the machine is a key component in the NCC driving forwards innovation in technology and techniques to deliver Industry 4.0 for composites. The system can already react to this data in real-time to intelligently adapt the infusion parameters and ensure the mould is filled. As the NCC capability develops it will allow for machine learning to recommend infusion cycle improvements based on data acquired from previous infusion cycles.

“Our Large Scale Resin Infusion equipment is game-changing for large infusion projects and as part of the iCAP programme takes us significantly closer to achieving our ambition of automating the infusion process to help reduce costs and production cycle times,” said Peter Giddings, Chief Engineer, iCAP at the NCC. “Whether you are manufacturing 18m long composite wings, boat hulls or bridges, the equipment and our team of experts is here to help you drive forward your emerging technology to industrial application.”

Further reading

NCC’s £36.7 million iCAP is the latest boost for the UK

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