Manufacturing of composites

Aircraft and automotive industries learn from each other

The aircraft and automotive industries are, in many ways, very different. Yet, they also share many similarities. Thanks to a collaborative project, both industries were able to learn from one another and practise their new knowledge. 

The aircraft industry has worked with very high-performance, carbon fibre composite materials for many years, in relatively small series at high costs. In contrast, the automotive industry is used to working with materials with lower performance (such as fibreglass composites) for mass production at low costs. The industries are very different, but can still learn a great deal from each other. 

Cooperation for cheaper manufacturing

Both industries were able to utilise each other's expertise in a collaborative project, with the aim to manufacture composites at a lower cost.  By composing a sheet mixed with vinyl ester plastic film and cut tousled carbon fibres in the tool and then compressing the mould with high pressure, a single component is moulded in one single minute. The product is then hardened directly in the mould by means of heat in the tool. 

In the project, researchers employed this method to manufacture a composite material hat-rack. It was a large and complicated workpiece, and it was manufactured with good results.

Increased automation

Through the project, the aircraft industry learnt how to reduce costs by increasing automation in manufacturing, having quality inspections, and by better utilising materials without compromising the quality.

The automotive industry learnt how to manufacture complex components in high-performance materials to obtain more cost-efficient, ultralight components, with short cycle times.