Fibre-reinforced polymer composite materials are leading candidates as component materials to improve the efficiency and sustainability of many transport modes. The advantages of high performance composites are numerous: they include lighter weight, the ability to tailor lay-ups for optimum strength and stiffness, improved fatigue life, corrosion resistance and, with good design practice, reduced assembly costs due to fewer detail parts and fasteners. Also, the specific strength and specific modulus of high strength fibre composites are higher than other comparable metallic alloys. This translates into greater weight savings resulting in improved performance, greater payloads, fuel savings and emissions reductions.
However, the current manufacturing processes used in aeronautic and automotive still represent high capital investments for SMEs, and this represents a major barrier for their deployment in sectors like automotive.
The main objective of the LOWFLIP project is to develop a low-cost flexible and integrated preforming/moulding/curing composite parts manufacturing process for the needs of different transport sectors, such us the aerospace and the automotive-surface transport sector, which will require minimum investments in comparison with current SoA processes.
The proposed project will develop a low-cost manufacturing process of composites dedicated to structural parts in the aeronautic, truck and automotive sectors:
- Low level of investment vs HP-RTM/ C-RTM and ATL/AFP, accessible for SMEs;
- Automated solution: high production capacity, low-cost equipment and high quality level for structural application;
- Reduction of process steps and energy consumption by investigating merging possibilities throughout the process;
- Process for small to medium sized 3D application (automotive);
- Process for medium to large panel application (aerospace, cargo transportation).