Producing fibre reinforced plastics is a craftsmanship as a lot of handwork is involved.. It is labour intensive and quality is not always consistent. Additionally possible health problems and low quality result when applying open-mould technique. The significant amount of extra work and materials required are obstacles for transitioning to the closed-mould technique.
Inholland works together with institutions and SMEs reducing the threshold for automated production of composites and helping composite producers to compete at a higher technical level.
The objective is to develop knowledge concerning technical and economical possibilities of automating vacuum infusion process through a practical approach together with SMEs.
In order to determine the research topics an inventory is made of the currently applied processes including all relevant parameters and possible automation methods resulting in a blueprint; the ideal image producing products by pressing only one button.
Concluding from the first phase process time, product and process complexity and batch sizes have significant influence when considering automation. For many parts of the process automation methods are available. However the processes are not integrated or connected through information exchange.
The next steps are
- Integrating processes
- Developing a demonstrator
- Input for cost modelling
These are achieved by involving the partners, external companies and education. For instance by developing a demonstrator and new concepts for manipulating materials. Finally the economic aspects are taken into account..