Advanced composites in 2016

The new year is now well upon us, and with many predicting the rise of digitally-integrated cars, virtual & augmented reality and the possibilities of wearable technology, we thought we would ask some of our staff to weigh-in with their predictions for our industry, and epm: technology itself, in 2016.

Philip Walker – Lead EngineerI think carbon fibre will move further into industries which traditionally have relied on steel, such as agriculture and forestry. Last year Stihl produced a feasibility study on the use of composites in chainsaws, and John Deere launched a partnership to make sprayer booms with a carbon fibre yacht mast company. This year we will hopefully see more development in these sectors due to the raised profile of carbon fibre and the increase of companies offering RTM and press tooling. The affordability of components to manufacturers and customers will also offer a more attractive product.On a recent visit to Nottingham University, we learnt that they are developing chop strand carbon fibre for press tools and assessing how it flows in moulds. I hope to see this developed further in 2016.

Video courtesy of Stihl

Daniel Poole – Project Engineer

2016 will see growth in the composites industry as the demand increases for higher strength-to-weight ratio parts. Today, we use Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software during the design of a performance composite part. It allows us to efficiently optimise and validate each design step using fast-solving, CAD-integrated simulations to ensure quality, performance and factor of safety (FoS) is achieved. This means we cut out the need for costly prototypes, unnecessary plies in the layup and even optimise material choice. We are able to produce complex composite assemblies that are at the cutting edge of innovation and serve a real purpose for their intended design.

A member of team epm: technology hard at work in our factory.

George Wright – Undergraduate Year in Industry

Over the past few years, the technology used to create 3D-woven composites has improved dramatically, leading to heavy investment from the aerospace industry.

The global push for eco-efficiency is also spreading throughout the industry, with manufacturers beginning to use natural fibres in response. This has sparked increased research into green manufacturing technologies.

With regards to epm: technology in 2016, I foresee a wealth of new opportunities within F1, Formula E and Le Mans due to new teams, regulations and the superb reputation of our world-class team here.

Featured image courtesy of NASA.