ESI GmbH coordinates the project along with fourteen other partners.
Paris, France – ESI Group , a supplier of digital simulation software for prototyping and manufacturing processes, announces the start of the INFUCOMP European Research Consortium. The four-year project, initiated by ESI, involves fourteen partners from eight countries and has a value in excess of Є5M. Its main objective is to develop Liquid Composites Molding for the Aeronautic sector.
To date, advanced composites in the Aerospace industry have mostly used prepreg tape laying because of the high stiffness, strength and fatigue resistance of toughened resins and high fiber content. However, drawbacks include high material costs, restricted shapeability, complex, expensive and time-consuming manufacturing, and limited materials shelf life. Consequently, alternative technologies are emerging based on Liquid Composites Molding of dry fiber textiles. Indeed, the longer term aim is to develop infusion technologies which can compete with prepreg composites, but the manufacturing methods are not fully industrialized and rely on costly prototype testing due to the lack of validated simulation tools.
The scientific aim of the INFUCOMP consortium is to build up a full simulation chain specific to the manufacture of large aerospace composite parts using Liquid Resin Infusion (LRI) that is dedicated to solutions required by the European Aerospace industry. Simulation will minimize expensive and time-consuming ‘trial and error’ testing methods and help to manufacture high quality parts, in a faster time and at lower cost.
Description of the work
The technical approach of the INFUCOMP project is to provide an End-to-End Virtual Prototyping solution from pre-form design to manufacturing (LRI) and optimize the process to predict final part defects and mechanical performance. There will be a focus on the infusion method. The project will cover all popular LRI methods currently used in the Aerospace industry and will offer technologies allowing economical manufacturing of high-performance, integrated, large scale composite structures.
In order to help attain these objectives, the European Framework VII research program is supporting financially the fourteen project partners. The consortium will be led by ESI, along with leading industry and research partners in the fields of Aerospace and Aeronautics.
The team includes two aircraft manufacturers: Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast (UK), and Piaggio Aero Industries S.p.A (Italy); two aircraft manufacturers and tier one suppliers: Daher Aerospace (France) and Israel Aerospace Industries (Israel) ; one material manufacturer: Hexcel (France); one digital simulation software supplier: ESI Group (France); an infusion sensor specialist INASCO (Greece); academic partners such as Cranfield University (UK), Ecole des Mines de Douai and Saint-Etienne (France), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium),; and two institutes: the Institute For Aircraft Design (IFB, Germany) and SWEREA SICOMP (Sweden). ESI GmbH, ESI’s German subsidiary, coordinates the consortium.
The complete simulation solution developed during the INFUCOMP consortium will be completed with the integration of a Manufacturing Cost Estimation software tool provided by the University of Patras.
The LRI process, especially for large scale structures, is not yet well mastered and validated simulation tools are a necessary requirement to properly industrialize this technology. The INFUCOMP project will positively contribute to further the use of textile composites in the Aeronautic sector, lowering cost, improving performance, increasing payloads and reducing fuel emissions. Although the planned research focuses on aerospace applications, it is expected the results will be very relevant to other industries.
“The INFUCOMP project is an essential part of an integrated composites solution package and will provide a unique opportunity to move forward with composites simulation and to develop new tools in collaboration with leading research and industrial Aerospace partners,” said Dr. Anthony Pickett, Scientific Director at ESI GmbH.
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