Aerostructural Efficiency

Project: Research council

Project Details


The proposed project will create new capability to improve the structural efficiency of laminated carbon fibre composites. It will reduce weight and production cost by at least 10% (and possibly up to 30%) compared with existing stiffened panels made from pre-impregnated material. The new methods will facilitate the development of game-changing technology. The key innovation of the project will be to exploit state-of-the-art manufacturing, Variable Angle Tow (VAT) placement (where stiff carbon fibres are steered along curves to maximize structural performance). Ongoing studies suggest that such savings are achievable for standard test specimens (coupons) but new understanding is required to fully characterise structural and material behaviour from the full component level down to individual lamina and their interfaces. The entire structural system including material, geometrical and manufacturing parameters will be optimised. The extra design freedoms, created by curved fibre trajectories, provide scope for pushing back the envelope of structural efficiency. The academic team provide a unique capability to fulfil this vision. They have a proven track record in manufacture, modelling and design of composite materials and structures and have clear routes to exploitation via a pivotal industrial base. Their novel damage tolerance modelling techniques indicate that large improvements in material efficiency can be achieved if critical positions of delamination damage are tailored via through-thickness laminate optimisation. The team's preliminary VAT results indicate the prospect of developing buckle-free structures, reducing the need for stiffeners, with associated substantial cost and weight savings. Moreover, the specific manufacturing capability to produce variable angle fibres is unique to the UK, having been modified from an embroidery machine, using dry fibres rather than pre-impregnated material. Airbus and GKN will support the project with 290k of direct funding.
Effective start/end date1/04/1030/09/14


  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council


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