Fabric producer Antich & Sons has achieved a step-change in its manufacturing capability to produce finished 3D multilayer woven preforms for advanced composites used in aerospace and automotive as a result of a pioneering project with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).
3D weaving of carbon fibre is a cost-effective method for producing high-quality, large-scale and high-thickness laminates for use with liquid resin injection processes to make lightweight composite materials. However, to create composite preforms for the aerospace and automotive sectors, a number of additional processes are key for widespread adoption of the technology.
Antich & Sons’ advanced capability is the culmination of FABFORM, a three-year project undertaken with the AMRC and funded by Innovate UK, which focused on developing the additional methods needed to create stabilised near-net shape preforms of variable thickness. These preforms will allow for efficient use of material within a component, ensure the correct size and shape to drop into moulds used for injection of composite matrix resin, as well as facilitate an easier and more robust handling and transport. Developments in the stabilising and trimming of 3D woven carbon fibre preforms with uniform and variable thicknesses is a remarkable achievement for the Huddersfield-based company, moving it beyond the current state-of-the-art and providing a step-change in the UK manufacturing capability.
Commenting on this project, Andy Smith, Research Director at Antich & Sons, said: “These advanced and ready-to-go preforms open up new avenues for the development of alternative structural and complex materials on the UK market, enabling the creation of more competitive products. Future opportunities in markets such as renewables (wind turbine blades), rail (body structure), and defence provide long-term benefits for the wider UK composite sector.”
With more than ten years’ expertise in composite research and development, in areas like polymer–matrix composites (PMC) and aluminium-matrix composites (AMC), Antich & Sons continues to drive the business forward into potential applications for its weaving technology. Antich & Sons intend to exhibit at Advanced Engineering & JEC World when the conferences return.
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