Work stream 4: Additively Manufactured Cure Tooling (ADDCUR)

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Work stream 4: Additively Manufactured Cure Tooling (ADDCUR)

Host Institutions: The University of Bristol, University of Bath

Start Date: 1st February, 2022

Duration: 6 months

Lead Investigator: James Kratz

Aims

ADDCUR will investigate tooling to reduce embodied energy of composite manufacturing. Specifically, we will explore additive manufacturing to design the lightest possible cure tools to increase rate and quality by adjusting the heat distribution in the mould. AM allows full design freedom based on the cure simulation that cannot be realised with subtractive manufacturing. However, design of additively manufacturable cure tools with embedded heating and cooling channels is extremely difficult. There are no design for manufacture workflows for effective single iteration design of complex manufacturable tooling optimised for energy efficiency. Currently, an AM ‘clean sheet design’ will require between 7–10 design iterations, often taking months. The approach here has the potential to radically shorten the design to manufacture time of complex tooling, targeting single iteration designs at a considerably lower cost. This is identified as a priority to help the UK to develop capability to digitally design and deliver future composite products.

The aim of this feasibility study is to reduce the manufacturing embodied energy of composite parts whilst retaining the same quality expected for high-performance structures. The following objectives will be addressed:

O1) Develop a DfAM workflow for composite cure tooling. Cure simulation will be incorporated with AM design to optimise the tool mass and position of integrated heat transfer channels.

O2) Evaluate stainless steel AM cure tools for composite moulding requirements. Surface finish, vacuum bag sealing, autoclave pressures, and heating/cooling uniformity will be assessed.

O3) Demonstrate energy savings of AM cure tooling. Cure composite parts with industrially relevant features and assess the quality of the resulting laminates.

 

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