Optimising Material Placement
The technical challenges and opportunities for optimising components for specialist manufacturing techniques, such as chopped spray deposition are different to those associated with the engineered fabrics or unidirectional materials. Considerable investment in tooling for both prototype and production and robot programming requires high confidence in the component performance.
Although chopped and indeed Sheet Moulding Compound (SMC) materials do not integrate different fibres into the same part, or have the same ability to make the fibres highly aligned and specialised at carrying load, they do have very good out of plane performance and are damage tolerant in the event of a local failure.
The chopped glass or carbon is made available on bobbins or in boxes and is therefore at it lowest price point. The fibres are fed into a chopper head and precision chopped and laid on to a preform screen. The usual distribution of fibre direction is random, however a number of systems including the Directed Carbon Fibre Preforming (DCFP) system developed by Bentley are able to deposit the chopped material with a bias to a particular fibre direction. A number of methods are used to consolidate the preform prior to final moulding.
Increasingly Engenuity is involved in design of components for the new manufacturing techniques for high volume, low cost use of composites. We have considerable experience of utilising advanced composite analysis to ensure the real world performance matches design expectation.