Currently, no non-conventional laminates are known to be implemented in the industry, though research has shown promising results in virtual analysis and coupon testing. Variable stiffness laminates with curved fibre paths show an increase in buckling loads, as well as tailoring of natural frequencies for both panels and cylinders. Straight-fibre laminates with dispersed fibre angles show a promise for improved damage tolerance. A so-called AP-PLY multidirectional weave pattern can improve damage tolerance for any stacking sequence.
The purpose of the CANAL project is to develop new Non-Conventional Laminate (NCL) configurations using Dry Fibre Placement (DFP) and the establishment of engineering tools to ensure implementation of the technology in the aerospace industry and other industries, such as automotive that can benefit from rapid and cost effective production of complex shaped and high-performance composite parts. Whereas up to now composite laminates usually consist of only 90, 0 and +/-45 degree layers, the development of Automated Fibre Placement technology has opened possibilities to divert from this limiting step in design and manufacturing.
Whereas for large aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing it almost seems default to use composites and a high level of automated fabrication with e.g. AFP, it is also lucrative for the small aircraft industry and the transport industry in general.
Both weight and cost reduction can be achieved using automated composite manufacturing like AFP. Further material cost reductions are achieved through use of dry fibres instead of more costly prepregs, in combination with Liquid Composite Moulding instead of costly autoclave curing. The reduction in weight and cost supported by novel non-conventional design and dry fibre placement and LCM manufacturing technique will further facilitate and speed up the introduction of composite lightweight structures in aerospace and other transport industries.