Advanced Composites Manufacture Capability Group

Department overview

From state-of-the-art robotic and computer controlled manufacturing facilities, to pilot-plant scale thermoforming, pressing, and machining equipment, the NCC has production capabilities to meet multi-sector industry demand. The Advanced Composite Manufacturing group produce one-off prototypes, complex parts and real-life scale components to demonstrate and expand the limits of what is considered possible.

The Advanced Composite Manufacturing team at the NCC is composed of seven specialist teams:

Prepreg Composite Moulding

Prepreg Composite Moulding offers some of the best properties that can be found in modern day composite materials. The NCC has a large environmentally controlled cleanroom, a segregated CNC ply cutter, as well as a 14m double diaphragm former. Our dedicated team of technicians have a wide range of experience across multiple composite industries, backed up by a highly capable and effective engineering support team.

Liquid Composite Moulding

Liquid composite moulding, comprises technologies where liquid resin is introduced into dry fibre preforms under vacuum or positive pressure conditions. The process offers a faster manufacturing approach than hand laid composites without the excessive tooling cost. The NCC offers the facility to produce one off demonstrator parts, using skilled technicians, and material test parts to evaluate new material combinations. The Liquid Composite Moulding team work actively with customers to develop the LCM process variations and dedicated process equipment to produce the best parts at the most economic cost.

High Value Manufacturing

The High Volume Manufacturing capability has been developed at the NCC in response to a growing need for composites in high volume markets. The NCC has commissioned a variety of equipment which enables us to work with industrial partners to develop and demonstrate innovative high rate manufacturing technologies on an industrial scale. In addition to access to the unique open access facilities and equipment, the NCC has a team of skilled engineers within the High Volume Manufacturing team that can offer guidance and technical leadership for customers, on new or existing research projects, offering expertise in developing innovative composite manufacturing technology for high volume applications.

Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) 

Conventionally composites are hand laid up from plies, which is very time consuming and can introduce problems with variability in the finished product. The NCC has a dedicated Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) team, focused on enhancing and developing your expertise in rapid, automated, material deposition - an area with huge potential benefit for future composites manufacture. The NCC is at the forefront of AFP technologies, hosting a unique multi-million pound twin-headed robotic AFP machine, supplied by Coriolis Composites (France). These arms work independently and cooperatively, rapidly depositing composite fibres in specific directions and to varying thicknesses to create highly accurate and repeatable composite structures.

Through Thickness Reinforcement (TTR)

The NCC has a cutting-edge Through Thickness Reinforcement (TTR) capability allowing for the design and execution of through-thickness reinforcement in both dry and prepreg laminates. The centre houses a high payload Kuka KR 240 robotic arm combined with four interchangeable end-effectors, to offer a choice of tufting, stitching, direct insertion and ultrasonic Z-pinning on large, tough and complex preform geometries. This equipment, combined with our expertise, allows us to perform industrial scale trialling and testing of TTR processes for a broad range of components in numerous manufacturing sectors.

Workshop Services 

Our workshop services team aid the flow of projects through the centre by scheduling and prioritising the various equipment required for each stage of projects. Workshop services run the machine shop, schedule resource and are on hand to advise on the best use of equipment for the customer’s requirement. With the help of our trained and experienced operators, the centre currently hosts the following equipment open for industry use:

  • Three-axis CNC mill
  • Manual mill
  • Manual lathe
  • Manual grinder
  • Diamond plate slitting saw
  • Waterjet cutter
  • Five axis router 

Training Workshop

The Training Workshop hosts a range of training sized facilities such as ovens, autoclaves and basic machining facilities to ensure SMEs have access to equipment suitable for their needs. These facilities also support our internal and external training courses, which starts at introductory composite materials courses and working all the way up to advanced level courses. The NCC offer these advanced courses in a range of subject areas such as Prepreg material manufacture, Resin Infusion (RI) and Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) and Automated Fibre Placement (AFP). 

Available to the department are key pieces of equipment that are at its disposal which include ovens and an autoclave alongside basic machining facilities.
Classroom training facilities are also available for classroom based activities and lectures. 

 

Main activities

  • Manufacture of sample features and components from specimens to full-scale demonstrators for process and material development.
  • Identification of dependencies of process parameters on design requirements and component/material performance.
  • Production of composite parts with thermoset or thermoplastic matrices, covering the full process from raw material identification and acquisition, to cured component machining and finishing.
  • Development and optimisation of novel and established manufacturing methods, for manual and highly automated production processes.

Sound like you? Consult our Vacancies page for more info.

 +44 (0) 117 370 7600
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