Composite materials are widely used in various sectors such as aerospace, automotive and wind energy. Global increase of demand, particularly for fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) composites, unavoidably lead to high volumes of manufacturing. In addition, production of virgin composite materials requires higher energy input in comparison to other counterpart materials such as steel and aluminium. The research proposal suggests fast manufacture route for integrated solution for Winged Unmanned Ariel VehiclE (WAVE).
3D woven Kevlar/carbon fibres preforms of integrated Fuselage/horizontal/vertical stab/wing is a complex part to manufacture using Resin transform moulding (RTM) and 3D woven composite. UAV is mainly used in harsh windy environment for coastal surveillance at UK border. This particular application requires extremely light weight structure and aerodynamically stable to deal with the cross wind in the North Sea.
A prototype will be formed using machined male/female aluminium tooling and internal bladder. We will be extending our capabilities in further developing advanced UAV aircraft that its designed and manufactured by our academic partner. We will be using our VFE autoclave that it designed to cure component up to 300°C and 27 bars in 2.5x1.5 m baking chamber to forge UAV in one batch, minimising time for assembly and aligning aerodynamics of the wing with Fuselage and vertical and horizontal stabilisers. Currently, we are using inhouse Hurco winmax10 CNC machine to machine the mould for the entire structure.
The mechanical testing on the final part will be carried out on representative specimen using in-situ Deben testing stage that is placed in a High-resolution Bruker Skyscan 2211 X-ray tomography. In order to understand the interdependencies between microstructure, mechanical loading and climatic implied processes in materials as accurate as possible, in situ investigations are of great importance. The use of the in-situ testing stage in combination with X-ray source enables the capture of the current state of a material in situ under mechanical tensile or compression loads up to 5 kN and variable temperatures in the range of room temperature to circa 250°C to understand the failure mode of the structure. These measurements give essential information about defects such as pores or delamination in the material’s initial condition as well as the progression and development of these defects under mechanical loading. This technique allows the evaluation of different compression moulding routes for the manufacturing of a material allowing the study of the resulting microstructure as well as the performance of the material or component under application-oriented conditions such as elevated temperatures and pressure.
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