Wednesday, January 16, 2019

News: AMRC accelerates use of recycled composites

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British motorsport and technology success story, Prodrive, is working with experts at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing on the latest lightweight composites.

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.

Prodrive, the world's most successful multi-disciplined motorsport businesses, is working with the AMRC on its P2T (Primary To Tertiary) philosophy, which is used for manufacturing recyclable composite components.

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Hannah Tew, partnership lead at the AMRC Composite Centre, said her team has been working with the company to further advance its recyclable composite process closer to full production. The focus is on automation and lowering production costs.

Hannah said: "The results from our initial press trials look promising and we're very much looking forward to supporting Prodrive in automating the process going forward."

​As P2T composites do not require heat or pressure during manufacture, there is no need for an autoclave - thus reducing costs and enabling the scaling up of production without major investment. The process uses a reactive thermoplastic resin instead of a thermosetting type and composites produced can be recycled multiple times.


Prodrive Composites believe they are the first to develop this technique with recycled fibres, which emerged through a development programme with an automotive OEM customer who required a high-performance structural material with lower environmental impact than conventional composites.

John McQuilliam, chief engineer at Prodrive Composites, said: "End-of-life recycling is one of the biggest debates in the composites world today. The issue affects automotive manufacturers and wider industries too, such as marine, where old fibreglass boats are often broken up and sent to landfill. The main barrier to recycling has been the type of resin used; thermosetting resins predominate but these cannot be readily recycled.

"We have been working with the AMRC and a series of large trial panels have been produced using an innovative process which can readily be automated. These trials have demonstrated that recyclable composite panels can be produced at a rate and cost to suit many industries.

"The unique feature of the P2T process is the reduced tooling cost and lead time compared to existing metallic or composite solutions."

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The ongoing research between the AMRC and Prodrive Composites is set to expand considerably over the coming year and is being closely monitored by numerous companies in various industries looking to improve their environmental impact with high performance, light-weight components.

AMRC website
Prodrive website

Images: AMRC / Prodrive

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