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New technologies for manufacturing optimized and more intelligent tools

Tools aims to develop new technologies in tool manufacturing to improve their efficiency in the production of composite parts. In order to enhance tooling behaviour, tools aims two main purposes: optimization of tooling material and geometry and development of more intelligent tools

TOOLS aims to implement new technologies in tool manufacturing to improve their efficiency in the production of composite parts. In order to enhance tooling behaviour, the actions can be divided into two main purposes: - Optimization of tooling material and geometry to increase heat efficiency in part manufacturing (lighter tools, save of energy, etc.) - Development of more intelligent tools, able to acquire additional information about part or tool itself to improve manufacturing processes and cleaning/maintaining operations. The project is split into five workpackages: new materials for curing tools, architectures and manufacturing process, functionality and sensorisation of the tools, demonstrators and conclusions. To improve heat efficiency, it is intended to develop mainly layup and curing moulds with optimized topology and materials, with the aim of reducing thermal expansion and weight in comparison to current metallic tooling. In order to achieve those targets, CFRP has been selected as base material for moulds and different options have been already screened and pre-selected. This part of the project involves testing those materials to assess their behaviour and performance for the manufacturing of tools. These works shall include a theoretical assessment of benefits and drawbacks of each material and also trials to study properties after several autoclave cycles (mechanical resistance, resin and release agent compatibility, reparability and cleaning, airtightness at room temperature and under ACL conditions, and capability of integrating vacuum connectors and thermocuoples). Additionally, an assessment of different manufacturing methods could be performed in order to see the machinability of the material and the possibility of laying them up onto a master mould. The process used to manufacture the mould will depend on the part to be produced on it, so it is necessary to know the capabilities of each material in order to make a later decision. Induction heating has proven to be a very powerful technology to assist processing of high performance carbon fiber composites. Recently developed manufacturing technology with in-tool induction heating makes it possible to significantly increase fiber volume fraction in the composite and thus also provide a better performing material. Another benefit with internal induction heating is dramatically reduced cycle times when manufacturing composite parts. Optimal processing conditions for CFRP tool manufacturing shall be studied, as well as the benefits and possible drawbacks with the technology. Carbon fiber moulds are less durable than metallic ones and have a tendency to micro-crack. It has been detected from previous experiences that there is an early deterioration of the composite tooling due to handling and demoulding operations. To solve this issue, a screening of different wear resistance coatings for the mould is proposed and different options such as metallic or ceramic coatings shall be studied. In parallel, simulation studies are aimed to be done to test flow behaviour inside the autoclave and manufacturing features with different tool morphologies. It is known that the performance of a tool inside an autoclave is in close relation to its architecture. A topological optimization combined with an intelligent aerodynamic design could cause faster heat up and cool down ramps as well as a more homogeneous temperature distribution in the tool. To make a first approach of the optimized architecture and evaluate flow effect in different directions, it may be necessary to perform a flow assessment using a wind tunnel or similar. Data capture, on the contrary, is not necessarily for CFRP tools, and could be implemented in metallic ones. Currently, there is limited knowledge about process evolution and interaction between part and tool, whose environment is not perfectly controlled. Errors appear in the production of parts due to non awareness of tool behaviour. To improve the functionality of tools it is intented to introduce sensors in the moulds that are capable to detect different parameters. Sensors that control pressure in the part, dielectric sensors that detect the cure of the resin or sensors that could detect thermal expansion or impacts on the tool are some ideas gathered, but the application is open to discussion. To improve mantaining and cleaning operations, the use of RFIDs or any other way to track the activities performed in the tool (cleaning, application of release agent, etc.) is proposed. An assessment of different sensors and their possible application for tooling multifunctionality improvement shall be done within this part.
Acronym: 
TOOLS
Project ID: 
11 717
Start date: 
01-11-2017
Project Duration: 
29months
Project costs: 
1 070 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Machine Tools technology
Market Area: 
Industrial Automation

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.