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ABBSTRACT2 research award

19 January 2010

ACCIS and the University of Bath have won a £1.4M four-year research award from EPSRC, with Airbus and GKN support, to create new capability to improve the structural efficiency of laminated carbon fibre composites.

ACCIS and the University of Bath have won a £1.4M four-year research award from EPSRC, with Airbus and GKN support, to create new capability to improve the structural efficiency of laminated carbon fibre composites. It will reduce weight and production cost by at least 10% compared with existing stiffened panels made from pre-impregnated material. The key innovation of the project will be to exploit state-of-the-art manufacturing, Variable Angle Tow (VAT) placement (where stiff carbon fibres are steered along curves to maximize structural performance). Ongoing studies suggest that such savings are achievable for standard test specimens (coupons) but new understanding is required to fully characterise structural and material behaviour from the full component level down to individual lamina and their interfaces. The entire structural system including material, geometrical and manufacturing parameters will be optimised. The extra design freedoms, created by curved fibre trajectories, provide scope for pushing back the envelope of structural efficiency. The team's preliminary VAT results indicate the prospect of developing buckle-free structures, reducing the need for stiffeners, with associated substantial cost and weight savings. Moreover, the specific manufacturing capability to produce variable angle fibres is unique to the UK, having been modified from an embroidery machine, using dry fibres rather than pre-impregnated material.

For further details on the Airbus/Bristol/Bath STrategic Research Alliance in Composites Technology see the press release or contact Prof. Paul Weaver and Dr Richard Butler.


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