Wednesday, February 5, 2014

News: Spinning a hi-tech yarn at the AMRC

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Research engineers at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing are continuing to be at the forefront of composite materials and their potential use in the automotive industry.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the AMRC has a £4.5m state-of-the-art centre supporting the development of advanced composite materials inside the Factory of the Future. The centre works with complex hybrid components and systems, which require manufacturing expertise in both composite and metallic structures.

The AMRC is working with Huddersfield textile firm, Antich & Sons Ltd, on a new project that aims to develop the tools and capabilities both for predicting the behaviour of 3D woven textile composites and for the manufacturing methods for producing components.

Antich & Sons Ltd manufacture the finest British worsted cloth for famous worldwide fashion brands, with over 40 weaving machines running 120 hours a week. On top of their expertise in weaving textiles for the fashion industry, over the last five years they have also developed capability for weaving technical fibres such as carbon, glass, kevlar and alumina for use in composite materials. This includes the development of a state of the art jacquard based 3D weaving machine for making net shape 3D composite preforms, as well as working with Jaguar Land Rover to develop aluminium matrix composites for use in their road cars.

The firm is a partner with Basingstoke-based Composite Metal Technology Ltd, in a government-backed £7m project that will increase the production of innovative composites which combine the strength and stiffness of steel with the weight of aluminium.

The AMRC is helping to bridge the gap between academia and industry and a KTP associate in Textile Composite Engineering is being recruited to work in Huddersfield and at the AMRC to help validate the cutting edge manufacturing methods.

The job description states: "Due to a certain level of immaturity in development and validation of these techniques, the uptake of complex preform composites has been somewhat restricted in industry. By improving and validating methods, confidence in these materials can then match their potential. This will open new markets and reduce the time to market for Antich & Sons and allow them to secure a future in technical weaving alongside their traditional weaving activities."

Previous work on composites at the AMRC include researching the potential use of biocomposites, such as hemp and cashew nut resin, to make bodywork panels for cars and the carbon fibre reinforced plastic and other composites used to make aircraft components significantly lighter.

Antich & Sons Ltd website
AMRC website

Images: Antich & Sons

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