QUICOM (Quantitative Inspection of Complex Composite Aeronautic Parts Using Advanced X-ray Techniques) is a Level 1 project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme that aims at taking the next big step in the characterization, simulation and modelling of aeronautic components.
Within the past decades, a clear trend formed within the aeronautic industry of constantly driving industrial research towards new tailored materials as well as cost-effective, function-oriented, highly integrated and light-weight components. The driving forces behind this trend are found in the high demands of airlines and operators regarding efficiency, environment, safety, as well as passenger comfort.
Advanced composite materials and especially Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers (CFRP) are the most promising materials, which allow integrating these demands in the components of the aircraft of the future (e.g., fuselages, horizontal tail planes, propulsion components). The next generation of aircrafts, as the Airbus A350 XWB, aim to be made of more than 50% of composite materials. However with the increase of the composite share the efforts for non-destructive testing are exploding.
The QUICOM project links the activities of 12 partners from 6 European countries including 6 research partners, 3 large enterprises, 2 SMEs and a network partner to ensure dissemination in order to establish a network of X-ray techniques, software, application, and CFRP material specialists to work together on a reliable, fully 3D inspection of aeronautic components. To date, there is neither a group in Europe which is able to carry out the project on its own, nor is a project partner able to carry out any single work package on its own.
The main objective of the QUICOM project is to provide a novel technology platform in the short run to escalate and in the long run to replace conventional aeronautic NDT techniques. This QUICOM technology platform contains novel, non-destructive, fully 3D, highly detailed, fast and economic techniques based on cutting edge X-ray computed tomography methods. Using these novel means of data acquisition in conjunction with data analysis, modelling and simulation, QUICOM will facilitate, implement and establish a new era of CFRP development on all ranges of aeronautic components, namely small high volume parts, composite metallic parts and complex and large parts. To summarise QUICOM targets the design, development, implementation and validation of novel X-ray computed tomography techniques for non-destructive structural and material characterization of aeronautic CFRP components.
Furthermore, QUICOM aims to model CFRP composites and CFRP structures integrating the characterization results. Feedback of the modelling results is provided
- To design office and manufacturing in order to advance the composite component, as well as
- To material development so as to advance the basic composite material.
Finally, QUICOM will contribute to the following:
- Reduction of the development costs of complex and large composite structures by 10%
- Reduction of the weight of the parts inspected with the QUICOM technology platform to 95%
- Provision of techniques for increased application of advanced light-weight high-temperature materials especially in terms of precise characterizations propulsion components as turbine blades
- Levelling up the use of fully integrated, complex composite components in order to replace components made by conventional materials
- Provision of a multi-scale progressive damage model for CFRP materials to assess the effect of initial defects on the tensile strength and fatigue life of the laminates
Besides these major goals QUICOM will cut the time to market thanks to the reduction of expensive and time consuming mechanical testing. Furthermore, it will stimulate the production efficiency as the characteristics of composites may be analysed in detail. Thus, QUICOM leads to composite components of enhanced quality and reliability.
The QUICOM project has been organized around 10 Work Packages (WPs). The RTD activities of QUICOM will be performed within WPs 2 - 9. WP 1 involves the management activities of the project while WP 10 focuses on the broad dissemination and exploitation of QUICOM project results. Inter-dependencies exist among the WPs and among the partners involved. The organisational structure of the project is anticipated to create strong synergies and ensure effective information between the different activities.
The QUICOM project is expected to be completed in 36 months and is divided into the following three distinct phases:
- Phase I - Detailed Specifications (WP2): In the first phase of the project the specifications for the required techniques and methods, software modules and showcases will be defined. The end-users will define the industrial needs and the test components for the different application areas. Finally, the sample specimens together with conventional NDT data will be collected.
- Phase II - Development of Methods and Techniques (WP3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8): This phase is considered to be the core phase of QUICOM within which the targeted technology platform will be developed. Individual methods and techniques will be developed within each application area. The concepts developed within the QUICOM project will be validated through a software demonstrator, which integrates all developed algorithms in a common software platform. Furthermore Robot based XCT for aeronautic components will be demonstrated on a laboratory-scale demonstrator.
- Phase III - Demonstration and Evaluation (WP9): In the final phase of the project, the developed methods and algorithm will be demonstrated, including robot based XCT, microstructure analysis of advanced composites, modelling, analysis of repairs and adhesive bonding, analysis of composite parts. For the demonstration the robot based XCT setup, the software demonstrator and the software for composite modelling will be used in common.
Results are integrated into a feedback cycle to boost composite development in the direction of saving weight without losing the demanded characteristics. More specifically, the QUICOM project is expected to escalate and replace commonly used NDT techniques (e.g. ultrasonic inspections, micro cuts) by using X-ray computed tomography in aeronautics. In addition, QUICOM involves the development and application of advanced X-ray computed tomography techn