Worth Reading – A Best Practice Guide for SMEs to make use of carbon fibre composite materials

Worth Reading

A best Practice Guide for SMEs to make use of carbon fibre composite materials

ITA Institut für Textiltechnik at Aachen University, respectively two textile researchers from ITA, Christoph Greb and Mesut Cetin are heading a project supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, jointly with Belgian experts have been creating a new guide “DeMaCO” (Design for Manufacture of Composites) in order to bring down existing mental barriers concerning fibre based materials and making use of composite structures

1The authors are convinced that CFRP carbon fibre reinforced plastics are on the rise, for example the first mass produced car with CFRP bodywork has been rolling out from the BMW (D) assembly line during the last few months. Carbon concrete composite, as well as lightweight composites for different purposes are likewise making inroads. Nevertheless, the material of the future is still viewed with some scepticism by SMEs small to medium sized enterprises and in their own product development. The guide is supposed to stand up against the prejudices.

The guide includes the first steps of a previously unknown material world. It provides guidelines and tools for the production of fibre based materials, with a focus on the liquid impregnation process, supporting SMEs in the development of composite products.

The manual was developed by ITA, the Institute for Textile Technology at RWTH Aachen University, in cooperation with the Institute of Polymer Materials and Polymer Technology at Technical University Clausthal (D). The manual gives a transparent insight into the complex interplay of product geometry (design), material selection and individual production steps. It also illustrates the performing and the finishing processes.

The best practice guide, directed primarily to designers and production managers, is a practical guide dealing with the entire production chain. Through literature research, consultation with industry partners, lab research and case studies, a “strategic guidance tool” was developed for selecting the right materials by using resins and fibres, individual technologies, including vacuum infusion, and tools such mould material (rigid foam, form type) , as well as the appropriate process steps for the post processing, for instance treatment or joining.

While the document covers a variety of manufacturing methods and complex manufacturing processes, the “Cost tool” also included in the DeMaCo guide, is developed to calculate the financial expenses involved. It considers product costs (all resources required for the product/component, such as textile reinforcing layers, gel-coat, vacuum bag sealant tape, release agents), as well project costs (all resources involved in the project, such as infusion tools), and investment co9sts (all resources, plants and machinery, such as tempering ovens, injection systems, presses, portal milling machine). The costs of production for the fibre reinforced plastic components, as well as the required cycle time is displayed as output values for the developed cost tool. The costs of production are divided between the processes injection, performing and finishing into product, project and investment costs.

The decision making and cost tools can be requested at the following e-mail address “subject: DeMaCo”.


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