Composites Innovation Cluster (CIC)
The Composites Innovation Cluster (CiC) Project was proposed by Cytec, Composites UK and Axillium Research in response to the demand signals of all UK industry sectors.
CiC brings Academics, Suppliers and Primes together with the strategy of the National Composites Centre and is endorsed by the National Skills Academy to support the delivery of a nationally connected network of composite knowledge and technology providers to address the market failures facing composites for high value manufacturing applications in the UK. This is a Strategic Activity which is aligned with the national strategies of BIS, TSB and EPSRC, and which will be led by Cytec, Composites UK and Axillium Research.
Principal Investigator: Nick Warrior
Sector: High-Value Manufacturing
The overall objective is to deliver a computer model for prediction of process and structural properties for the discontinuous fibre architecture moulding compounds produced via the ACTIVATE process. Industrial exploitation of discontinuous fibre materials for structural applications demands both comprehensive material and process models for property prediction, to ensure holistic design. A key focus within this challenge is to develop a model which will overcome the following issues:
- Variation in reinforcement scale caused by fibre fragmentation, ranging from single filaments up to the virgin tow size
- Stochastic variation induced by the manufacturing process
- Scale of the representative volume element (potentially of structural dimensions)
- Geometrical effects, including laminate thickness and component design
- Heterogeneity induced during the processing stage
Within the University of Nottingham (UoN) element of ACTIVATE we aim to develop material models to describe the structural moulding compounds derived from the process. At present, moulding compounds such as these are not used in structural applications since existing design approaches specify the use of continuous fibres for reinforcement for high-performance applications and short (discontinuous) fibres in only non-structural, low volume fraction applications.
Our ambition is to enable a radical change in this philosophy by developing a validated generalised CAE tool for the optimisation of discontinuous fibre composites architectures to empower designers to incorporate discontinuous fibres into composite geometries for high-performance applications.
In the high volume automotive and aerospace secondary structure sectors, non-woven textile fibre architectures based on discontinuous fibres offer the opportunities to reduce cycle-time and process scrap.