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Work Stream 6: Zero Waste Manufacturing of Highly Optimised Composites with Hybrid Architectures

Host Institution: University of Warwick

Start Date: 1st November, 2022

Duration: 12 months

Lead Investigator: Connie Qian

Co-Investigator: Lee Harper


This project aims to create a practical solution by co-moulding continuous fibre prepreg with both formats of waste prepreg (chips and patches) together to form a hybrid material. This creates an opportunity for producing highly optimised architectures by aligning the continuous fibres in the virgin prepreg with the principal stresses to satisfy the primary load case, whilst exploiting the waste materials for alternative functionalities, such as stiffening geometry (ribs), core material for sandwich panels, or for damage tolerance requirements. The patches can be cut as simple, nestable shapes to maximise material utilisation and minimise charge preparation times, and the remaining material from the prepreg scrap can be processed into chip-based SMC. The prepreg chips will be engineered to produce high levels of in-plane and out-of-plane material flow, whilst the slits in the prepreg patches will be used to improve the in-plane shear behaviour of the fabric. Both re-processed prepreg formats will require extensive trials to understand the optimum cutting patterns to achieve the desired in-mould effects.

This research aims to deliver a new hybrid compression moulding process combining discrete continuous fibre prepreg patches and prepreg chip based SMC from recycled prepreg manufacturing waste, along with the virgin continuous prepreg to achieve 100% material utilisation.

Key objectives include: 

  • Develop a robust re-processing method for manufacturing prepreg-based SMC based on UoW’s existing compounding line
  • Determine the optimum chip size for the prepreg-based SMC through experimental flow characterisation to maximise the material’s ability to flow both in-plane and out-of-plane
  • Explore a range of nesting strategies for prepreg patches through experimental compression moulding trials
  • Manufacture of demonstrator components using the proposed new hybrid moulding process to achieve zero-waste target
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