3D Weaving for Advanced Composite Manufacturing: From Research to Reality
Manufacturing near-net shape preforms of fibre-reinforced composites has received growing interest from industry. Traditionally, a preform was made from 2D fabrics, but recently, it has been shown that 3D structures can be used with success. Various methods of forming 3D fibre architectures exist and are widely used, such as knitting, braiding and nonwovens; with weaving being the predominant technology for carbon fibre composites. In 3D weaving, weft, warp and binder fibres run across, along and through the fabrics. Producing a unitised single-piece fabric and subsequently reducing the takt time required for rapid composite manufacturing are two of the main advantages of using 3D woven preforms. In this work, a recently developed 3D weaving design software was used to design a set of different weave structures made of five layers: multilayer, orthogonal and angle-interlock. A standard Dobby loom was used to weave the 3D fabrics. In addition, 2D plain weave fabric was produced to provide a benchmark comparison. Flat composite panels were manufactured using resin transfer moulding (RTM). The panels were then characterised physically through density measurements and fibre-volume-fraction analysis and mechanically by flexural testing. X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) and optical microscopy were also carried out to validate the manufacturing quality of the dry fabrics and composites produced. Finally, a large automotive composite demonstrator was manufactured out of single-piece 3D woven preform.
Authors: Hassan M. El-Dessouky, Alice E. Snape, Jody L. Turner, Mohamed N. Saleh, Hannah Tew, and Richard J. Scaife
Conference: SAMPE Seattle 2017