The Engineering Composites Research Centre was established at Ulster University over twenty years ago and has focused its efforts in developing 3D weaving for the manufacture of reinforcements (technical textiles) for composites.
The Centre remains the UK leader in the development of this technology. The Group has developed expertise in the design, modelling and prediction of the performance of these technical textile structures and built up an integrated design and manufacture system for both flat (multi-layer) fabric reinforcements and preforms for specific components such as spars, aerofoil sections and monolithic ribs.
The centre has an impressive skills base drawing on expertise from the engineering and science backgrounds of the staff involved in the centre.
Typical areas of expertise are:
- Unique design and manufacture – carbon tow through to component
- Design and development and manufacture of 3D tailored complex textiles
- Materials characterisation
- Advanced composite manufacturing
- Modelling of mechanical properties
- Predictive models
Weaving technology is increasingly being used to produce dry multilayered preforms that are subsequently infused with a liquid matrix material to produce high performance composites.
Three dimensionally (3D) woven composites, in particular, have been shown to possess many advantages compared to traditional performing methods with the ability to tailor fiber placement in the X-, Y-, and Z-axis directions.
Manufacturing and performance advantages have been discussed extensively in literature, for example, improvements in compression-after-impact (CAI) strength compared with two-dimensional (2D) laminated composites and the ability to produce ‘near-net-shape’ preforms.
The 3D woven composites produced at ECRE exhibit a crack propagation value of G1C which is an order of magnitude greater than 2D woven structures, thus indicating a significantly higher resistance to delamination growth than 2D woven structures.
- Rolls Royce
- Bombardier Aerospace
- FG Wilson
- BE Aerospace
- Axis composites
- BAE Systems
- Airbus UK
- Dowty Propellers
- DeepSea group
- Park Hill Textiles
- Boxmore Plastics Ltd (Composite Division)
- Arntz Belting Company