As their name emphasizes it, composite materials are a result of an intimate mix between several other materials, principally a reinforcement (fibers) and a matrix (resin). When creating a component, we consider a full range of products in order to carefully select the best combination of materials to achieve an optimal design. Our core abilities revolve around Polymer Matrix Composites (PMC) but we are able to investigate our network for additional composite solutions. At CCS, we work with different types of fibers (tapes, woven fabrics, prepregs, short fiber compounds), different resin systems (thermoset, thermoplastics) and also incorporate core materials (foam, sandwich structures). We support customers on a tailored basis to assess the ideal set of materials in accordance to each project.
Mature composite manufacturing technologies which developed to an industrial level are numerous. We work with a large array of those solutions to optimize the production effort, and select the ideal process for your specific application.
First come the manual processes. Prototypes and large parts are often produced with small series equipment, saving on cost and enhancing flexibility of design. Amongst those, it is worth mentioning:
- Wet lay-up: fiber plies are laid into the mold, resin and catalyst mixture distributed manually. Such technology allows great flexibility, such as the possibility to overmold extra features on other parts or reach important laminate thicknesses.
- Fabric lay-up and vacuum infusion: once a preform is placed into the mold, a specific bagging set-up allows the resin to be pulled through the fiber mat thanks to vacuum pressure. Applicable to very large parts.
- Advanced infusion methods, e.g. Vacuum Assisted Process VAP®: enhanced infusion method (AIRBUS patented) using semi-permeable membrane for improved processability.
- Prepregs lay-up and autoclave curing: already wet materials (or even infused but uncured materials) can be cured with an autoclave, a controlled-atmosphere oven, to increase the part compaction and final properties.
Advanced & Automated Processes
More technologically advanced processes can be used to either produce higher-end parts or scale-up to large production series. At CCS, we support our customers designing parts and using those automated & advanced preforming methods. We are working with state-of-the-art processes such as:
- Filament winding: an already well-proven industrial method, which consists of a rotating mandrel onto which impregnated fiber tapes or prepregs are wound. Ideal for geodesic geometries.
- Braiding: complex systems allow to braid multiple fiber rovings together, providing exceptional axial reinforcement for cylindrically shaped parts.
- Automated Fiber Placement (AFP): aerospace grade of composite panel manufacturing, AFP technologies can be used to deposit unidirectional tapes into a flat or slightly curved panel. This is the automated version of the manual lay-up, providing increased accuracy, reliability and quality.
- Fiber Patch Placement (FPP): is an additive manufacturing technology enabling the production of complex fiber composite structures. It consists in the automated deposition of prepreg patches into a complex geometry, improving material efficiency and avoiding drapability issues.
- Tailored Fiber Placement (TFP): this technique emerged from the textile industry, and basically consists in the sewing of a fiber material onto a base material (e.g. glass fiber mat) thanks to a stitching thread. On top of other automation advantages, key assets are the potential for 3D fiber reinforcements (high stress applications) and the near net shape parts obtained.
Unsure of your material requirements? What process is best suited to your part design ? Let us investigate for you