Project Details


If demand for production of next-generation, short-range commercial aircraft is to be profitably met, current methods for composite airframe manufacture must achieve significant increases in material deposition rates at reduced cost. However, improved rates cannot come at the expense of safety or increased airframe mass. This project will enable a fourfold increase in productivity by establishing novel manufacturing techniques that speed up deposition of stiffness tailored material. New continuum mechanics-based forming models will ensure delivery of better products by minimising occurrence of manufacturing defects. In a parallel stream of activity, new methodologies for analysis and design of composite structures in which the ply angle and thickness of fibre-reinforcement is spatially tailored, both continuously and discretely, will reduce the need for stiffening, leading to significant savings in structural mass (by up to 30%) and manufacturing cost (by up to 20%). Potential structural integrity and damage tolerance issues, such as transition in fibre angle and tapering of laminate thickness from one discrete angle to another, will be addressed. The project will engage a multidisciplinary team of engineers and applied mathematicians to develop novel manufacturing and modelling techniques. An embedded university-industry partnership will focus on the creation of new manufacturing and analysis capabilities, supported by fundamental research. Academics at Bath and Exeter will partner with the National Composites Centre and with industrial collaborators that span the airframe supply chain. The project will enable production of high performance composite components at rates suitable for the next generation of short-range aircraft. There are also opportunities for impact in the wider composites manufacturing industry, including automotive and energy sectors.
Effective start/end date1/10/1630/09/20


  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

RCUK Research Areas

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Manufacturing Machinery & Plant

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  • Research Output

    • 2 Article
    • 1 Conference contribution
    Open Access
  • 18 Citations (Scopus)
    13 Downloads (Pure)

    Discrete Stiffness Tailoring for Improved Buckling Performance

    Culliford, L., Choudhry, R., Butler, R. & Rhead, A., Aug 2017, 21st International Conference for Composite Materials. Xi'an, 12 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

  • Laminate Design for Optimised In-plane Performance and Ease of Manufacture

    Nielsen, M., Johnson, K., Rhead, A. & Butler, R., 1 Oct 2017, In : Composite Structures. 177, p. 119-128

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 5 Citations (Scopus)