The University of Delaware’s Centre for Composite Materials will host a three-day course to focus on composites at BMW and offer hands-on lab experience.

The three day course titled Advanced Manufacturing Composites will run from August 12–14th and is co-hosted by the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Centre. On the 12–13th Stefan Kercher, head of the Materials and Process Technology Laboratory at BMW Group Munich, will present a two-day course, “Composites at BMW”, while the final day is devoted to hands-on laboratory experiences for students.

The composites at BMW course will detail BMW’s project i program and the background behind it including the theoretical background of the materials used in composites at BMW, coupon-level testing and crash concepts and energy absorption of composite structures.

Topics to be covered on the third day include chemical and mechanical materials characterisation, thermoforming of thermoplastics and liquid moulding processing. The event is open to UD students and current members of CCM’s Industrial Consortium.

Founded in 1974, CCM conducts basic and applied research, educates scientists and engineers, and develops and transitions technology. Since 1985, CCM has been designated a centre of excellence through seven programs.

The centre has some 250 affiliated personnel, more than $12 million in annual expenditures, and over 2,000 alumni worldwide. More than 3,500 companies have benefited from affiliation with CCM over the past three decades.

Student Basia Dżaman for her graduation project, during the last year of Industrial Design studies at the School Of Form in Poznań has created 3D printed parts to adapt a Kuka robot to weave carbon fibre.

All the tools used on the KUKA robot were modelled in Rhino and 3D printed. The Resulting stitches created by the carbon fibre are taken from a traditional Polish handcraft called “snutki” and is just an example of how to use the technology. The program leading the robot is flexible and generates a different outcome depending on the input points.

In one of the largest ever composite industry apprenticeship schemes in the UK, 25 Prodrive apprentices have completed their level 2 NVQ in composite engineering.

The newly qualified group are now working on projects at Prodrive’s Composites factory in Milton Keynes, manufacturing components for a number of British sports and super cars to the construction of the European Space Agency’s new Mars Rover.

With a general lack of skilled composite technicians, in what is an expanding global industry, Prodrive, back in 2013 chose to recruit and train its own young talent. The company worked with the Milton Keynes-based TXM Academy to deliver the programme and through a combination of work-based and classroom training, all now have a nationally recognised qualification and the skills necessary for a career in composite engineering.

Chris Smith, Prodrive Composites operations director, who oversaw the apprenticeship programme, said:

Back in 2013 we employed about 70 staff, but with major programmes coming on stream we realised would soon need nearly 200. There just aren’t that many skilled composite technicians in the UK yet, because it is such a new and growing sector, so our only option was to train our own. It has turned out to be the best decision we could have made and we have a great group of enthusiastic technicians.

The company say the apprenticeship programme has been a success and has already begun recruiting apprentices for 2015, who should be qualified in 12 months.

Students who signed up to the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate program at Great Bay Community College’s Advanced Technology and Academic Centre (ATAC) in Rochester, recently completed a new High Performance Fabrication course.

Added in February, the course is part of a new specialisation within the 6-month Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate (ACM) program which provides students with industrial training for employment in composites materials manufacturing.

Over the 4 week course, students were asked to manufacture a bridge part using processes of oven curing of carbon fibre prepreg and infusion for fibreglass parts. During the final class, parts were assembled to create a 14 foot long bridge.

The project tested the students knowledge of fibre orientation, flow behaviour, mould use, and curing processes, as well as incorporation of applied math, physics, chemistry, and measurement. In a small period of time the candidates had to learn new processes, before applying the knowledge to create a product consisting of multiple parts. This work required manual dexterity, pre-planning, writing of work instructions, time management, problem solving, and revising.

According to Debra Mattson, Advanced Materials Manufacturing Program Director/Designer at Great Bay’s Advanced Technology And Academic Centre, the new course meets the training needs for a wide segment of the composites industry

By teaching student the skills to use all the customary materials, tools and equipment for the manufacturing of high performance composites, they see firsthand what manufacturing processes are happening each day in industries including aerospace, automotive, high-end marine, and consumer goods.

Along with High Performance Fabrication, students enrolled in the ACM Certificate program can also choose from other areas of concentration including Paint Operator, Weaving Technician and Preform Finishing, Resin Transfer Moulding Technician, Bonding and Finishing Operator, Quality Inspection and CMM Operator, Composites CNC Milling and Set-up Operator and Composites Repair Technician.

The college is currently teaching the 9th cohort of students enrolled in the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Certificate program, graduating students every 4 months. According to Mattson, out of the 25 students who graduated in May 2014, 21 are currently employed. The program is poised to grow from 60 graduates the first year to over 200 graduates in year three.

It’s hoped that the £150,000 loom will take the composites team in Sheffield into whole new unexplored territories.

In the past, team members have been limited to using commercially available woven reinforcing materials, now, they will be able to design and weave their own material. The new capability means the Centre will be able to push the boundaries of processes like Resin Transfer Moulding, where components are made by injecting resin into a mould into which dry fibre has been laid down.

The centres researchers have been studying how resin flows through fabrics made from carbon fibre and found the resin flow through the fabric isn’t symmetrical, despite the weave pattern being perfectly symmetrical. They believe this may be a result of slightly differing yarn tensions within the fabric.

Now they hope to increase their knowledge by experimenting with different tensions for the warp – the long continuous threads and the weft – the thread that is fed across the loom between the warp threads to create the woven material.

AMRC Composite Centre’s Dr Jody Turner said;

If we can control warp and weft tension we might be able to influence resin flow. We also want to push the machine to the limit of its capabilities. For example, it isn’t designed to produce three dimensional structures, but we are hoping to create structures like pockets and flaps.

If the researchers are successful, they could be able to weave materials that could be opened up to form a series of boxes or a honeycomb structure that would give the completed composite component additional strength.

The Long Island Forum for Technology has announced it will partner with Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology to deliver a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education course on composite technology.

The program will provide an introduction to composite technology and aim to give high school students an appreciation for the field of composite design, engineering and manufacturing. This program will expose students to state-of-the-art composites manufacturing at a level that is currently offered by just a few engineering schools in the United States.

The Composites Prototyping Centre’s (CPC) mission is to enable all organisations to meet the needs of advanced composite manufacturing by providing access to essential training, workforce development, process technologies, and prototype manufacturing, and testing capabilities. Through these services, CPC will be helping companies to meet the advanced manufacturing supply chain needs of prime contractors.

According to LIFT CPC Executive Director Leonard Poveromo, the first school districts that will be participating in the STEM course are Bethpage, Syosset, and Huntington. Eighteen juniors and seniors will be taking the six-week pilot program. Once the pilot is completed, CPC plans to roll-out the program and make it available to all Long Island school districts.

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