A new process and machine concept developed by Composite Cluster Singapore (CCS) and its industrial partners could herald the production of high-performance composite structures in shorter time and with significantly reduced cost.
The groundbreaking concept which is based on a CCS project featuring HOPE Technik, KUKA Robot Automation, the SGL Group and TRUMPF, builds on market proven thermoplastic tape placement technology, integrating it with advanced robotics and laser technologies to overcome limitations of current solutions.
The project is being supported by SPRING Singapore’s Technology Enterprise Commercialization Scheme (TECS). SPRING Singapore is an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry responsible for helping Singapore enterprises grow and building trust in Singapore products and services. The TECS is a competitive grant that supports the development of high-growth Singapore start-ups with a strong technology proposition and a scalable business model.
Parts and components made from high-performance carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) generally have superior stiffness and strength per weight when compared to metal components. In addition, they also present opportunities in design and shapes, because they are per definition an additive manufacturing method. CCS and its partners are building on the recent advancements in materials, as well as automation to establish a process and machine concept to manufacture CFRP components without expensive molds and tooling.
The CCS project team will be lead by Dr Florian Doetzer, Managing Director of Composite Cluster Singapore (CCS), an experienced technology manager with previous positions in automotive and aerospace industries. He and his team will be supported by each partners’ specialist engineers in their respective field of expertise: integration and prototyping (HOPE), robotics (KUKA), thermoplastic composite material (SGL) and industrial laser technology (TRUMPF).
The CCS concept aims to target a global market of high-performance composites that Cleveland research company Freedonia Group estimates will touch $10.2 billion in 2016, while business information company Visiongain estimates the global market for aerospace components to go up to $10.3 billion in the next few years or so.
According to CCS, the global potential for components produced with the freespace composite manufacturing system will be approximately $2-3 billion in 2016 spanning multiple industries, that include aviation, space, marine, racing and sports.
“The idea of freespace composite manufacturing – that we are developing further in this project – is certainly pushing the boundaries of what is possible with today’s technology,” said Dr Doetzer. “It is the joint competence of world class project partners that will allow us to achieve something that has never been done before. As bold as the idea is, this is the team to do it. And it will be done in Singapore.”
“Identifying and supporting innovative, high-growth start-ups is at the heart of our efforts. The success of the project will push the boundaries in materials engineering in Singapore and have disruptive implications in the high-technology based manufacturing for the aerospace, aviation and motoring industries,” explained Edwin Chow, Executive Director for the Innovation and Start-ups Group, Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board (SPRING) Singapore.
Image courtesy of iStock/Innovation in Textiles/CCS