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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H025898/1
Title: Aerostructural Efficiency of Damage Tolerant Composites via Optimised Fibre Placement
Principal Investigator: Butler, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Kim, Professor HA Hunt, Emeritus Professor G
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Airbus Group Limited GKN
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: University of Bath
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2010 Ends: 30 September 2014 Value (£): 523,127
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
EP/H026371/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Dec 2009 Material, Mechanical & Medical Engineering Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
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.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Summary
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bath.ac.uk