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Research, development and demonstration of novel processing techniques for structural thermoplastic composite poles

Novel methodologies for preforming and manufacturing thermo-
plastic composite columns will be developed. Case study
structures will be designed to comply with recent european
passive safety standards and fabricated to prove the process

There is a legislative requirement to reduce styrene emissions during the manufacture of polymer composite materials. There is a requirement for roadside equipment to be categorised in accordance with its passive safety performance. To remain competitive there is pressure to reduce manufacturing costs and materials usage and improve product performance. Specific processing limitations include the inability to produce tapered or stepped column forms continuously or at high speed and the fabrication of tapered wall thickness. More versatile thermoplastic composite materials have recently been developed that are potentially able to overcome these limitations whilst retaining many of the performance advantages of conventional thermoset systems. The successful application of these new materials is envisaged to result in a step change in manufacturing technology for tubular forms. The overall objective of this project is to research, develop and demonstrate a novel high speed processing methodology for the manufacture of tubular thermoplastic composite components. The specific objectives are: * To develop automated high speed fibre placement techniques and associated software which will enable continuous thermoplastic yarns to be positioned on tapered mandrels. * To develop techniques to enable longitudinal, UD fibre placement whilst decreasing wall thickness towards the tapered end of a tube. * To research and develop the application of woven tapes and fabrics to increase production speeds. * To develop a technique for creating 3D preforms to complex moulded shapes. * To research and develop techniques to produce a high gloss, pigmented and UV-resistant surface finish that eliminates fibre and ply overlap print through. * To research and develop a processing technique that enables the thermoplastic composite to be consolidated and de-moulded within a 20 minute cycle, whilst retaining a high level of material properties. * To investigate and demonstrate techniques for joining attachments to tubular columns using bonding or welding. * To design, develop and prototype 3 case study components, namely: - 8 metre tapered flag pole, - 8 metre stepped lighting column, and - 10 metre utility pole. * To confirm the design and processing methodology by achieving compliance with EN40 and EN 12767 and other appropriate national standards for the case study components. * To disseminate the technology effectively through technical publications and demonstrations of the performance of the case study components. The basic research elements include the development of the materials, yarns, tapes and fabrics appropriate for two preforming options to be addressed. Necessary equipment and software will be developed and consideration will be given to design aspects such as surface finish and jointing sections. Processing trials and testing of elements will enable key processing parameters to be identified and processing windows to be established. An applied research stage will focus on applying the technology to 3 case study components, a utility pole, a lighting column and a flagpole. These will pose different technical challenges in terms of design requirement, materials configuration and aesthetics and will be carried out in CANADA, the UK and DENMARK respectively. Full-scale prototypes of each case study will be produced and subjected to static and dynamic testing in accordance with EU standards to confirm the design methodology and process performance. Several design and process iterations will be undertaken whilst scaling up component size. Keywords: composite, manufacturing, columns.
Acronym: 
THERMOPOLE
Project ID: 
2 534
Start date: 
05-12-2000
Project Duration: 
33months
Project costs: 
3 000 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

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.