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September’s Top Composite News!

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Let’s kick off our newsfeed with very exciting news: The NCC successfully demonstrates AFP manufacture of CMC parts!

Engineers at the National Composites Centre (NCC, Bristol, U.K.) have completed what they say is a European first by manufacturing ceramic matrix composites (CMC) using automated fiber placement (AFP) technology, paving the way for the materials’ high-temperature capabilities to be unlocked within engines.

The project — completed as part of the NCC’s Core Research program, and supported by Rolls-Royce, Reaction Engines, MBDA and 3M — has demonstrated that a novel oxide-based ceramic towpreg material from 3M can be used in automated deposition.

While conventional nickel-based superalloys have a maximum continuous temperature of approximately 800°C, oxide-based CMC can operate at 1,000°C, with the higher operating temperature potentially improving the efficiency of aerospace engines and reducing fuel consumption and subsequent CO2 emissions.

Interested to know more about this project? Check out this link:

Mubea to collaborate on production of carbon fiber exoskeletons!

Automotive supplier Mubea (Attendorn, Germany) has entered into a cooperation agreement to commence production of robotic exoskeletons for smart power suits developer German Bionic (Augsburg, Germany).

German Bionic’s Cray X power suits, which feature carbon fiber composite frames, aid workers when lifting heavy loads by actively amplifying their movements and thus protecting the lower back from excessive strain. 

Mubea is a specialist in high-quality lightweight components and is a ‘hidden champion’ world market leader with many of its products,” says Dr. Thomas Muhr, managing partner of Mubea. “Over the past decades, we have developed into a leading supplier for the automotive industry with our products for body, chassis and powertrain. Together with German Bionic, we are now expanding our new micromobility business area to include the future field of robotic exoskeletons.

Now, let’s talk about the 3D printing of carbon fiber composites in the drone industry:

3D-printed composite tail rotor gear box housing enhances Discovery super drone

Discovery is a 75-kilogram maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) unmanned single-rotor helicopter. It is Flying-Cam’s newest, largest and most versatile system so far with increased endurance features. Fully integrated state-of-art sensors were carefully chosen to match the platform quality for a variety of applications ranging from entertainment, homeland security, earth monitoring and high-precision remote sensing generally.

The aim of the “super drone” project was to create a lightweight yet rigid physical and aerodynamic protection for the tail rotor actuators and the GPS antenna. Flying-Cam opted for CRP Technology’s proprietary high-performance Windform Top-Line range of composite materials, particularly Windform XT 2.0, a carbon fiber-filled polyamide-based 3D printing composite especially suitable in demanding applications for such a sector as motorsports, aerospace and UAV.

The material replaced the previous formula of Windform XT in the Windform Top-Line family of materials for PBF created by CRP Technology, featuring improvements in mechanical properties including +8% increase in tensile strength, +22% in tensile modulus and a +46% increase in elongation at break.

Our last story covers thermoplastic composites!

One-shot manufacture of 3D knitted hybrid thermoplastic composite structures!

To help realize industrialized lightweight vehicle components, the European Commission backed a project called MAPICC 3D (2011-2016). It sought to develop a process capable of producing net-shape, high-performance structural 3D thermoplastic textile composite preforms with topology-optimized fiber reinforcement orientation made in one shot using a knitting technique.

The project included the development of virtual tools capable of modeling 3D composite structures and predicting their mechanical behavior according to textile architecture and resin choice, allowing for customized end products and better accessibility to SMEs/OEMs. It also saw the development of thermoplastic hybrid yarns comprising both matrix and reinforcing fibers. The resulting manufacturing procedure can precisely steer the fibers in three dimensions, tailoring them to the component’s load paths with minimal raw material waste.

Volvo Group Europe used the MAPICC 3D project to develop and validate a thermoplastic textile composite seat reinforcement plate for its N2 class truck (axle weight between 3.5 and 12.5 metric tons) to replace a steel plate. The resulting composite part was to match the steel version’s technical requirements, including the strength needed to pass the mandatory ECE R14 seat belt anchorage test for the N2 class vehicle, and realize significant weight savings.