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Carbon fibre for composite material applications
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Sigmatex Wins JEC 2011 Process Category Award

Runcorn UK: Sigmatex and its partners, Bentley (UK), NP Aerospace (UK), QinetiQ (UK),

Composites Integration (UK), Network Rail Infrastructure (UK), Tony Gee & Partners (UK), Pipex Structural

Composites (UK), Oxford Brookes University (UK) and University of Nottingham (UK), are delighted to receive the JEC 2011 Award for the Innovation Category for Process. 14 companies and their partners will receive awards at the JEC Composites Show (March 29-31, 2011).

Chris McHugh, Sigmatex’s Lead Development Engineer in 3D Structures said “The 2011 JEC Innovations Award is the culmination of two years development work from an initial meeting at JEC in Paris during the 2009 conference. It is a great achievement for the ACTS Consortium funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Technical team at Sigmatex, who have dedicated a great deal of time and patience in the innovative process used to manufacture the 3D Nodal structure. Recognition is always appreciated and the JEC Innovation award has further stimulated the Technical Team to continue in its goals to push the boundaries of Carbon Fibre Weaving”.

Novel weave styles and processes have been used to overcome specific manufacturing problems. The node is near net shape with additional functionality from interweaving carbon fibre threads. The specific process of offset weaving can be used in other common designs where stiffness is a primary requirement. In conjunction with the weaving of the 3D structure, tooling design was also completed and infusion techniques developed for infusing the component.

Multiple units can be manufactured in a repeatable fashion using weaving technology. Lay-up times to manufacture truss structures are reduced by weaving features and multiple layers at once. Other features can be woven into the truss to improve strength and conformability. Other materials can be interwoven throughout the structure for Structural Health Monitoring purposes.

There are thousands of railway, foot and canal bridges throughout Europe which are coming to the end of their life. The requirement for high-strength, corrosionfree structures that could benefit from this technology is vast and potentially worth millions of euros. The technology can also be used in other automotive and aerospace applications, increasing the market potential significantly.