Ceramic matrix composite project

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in the UK has collaborated on a project to improve ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) made with silicon carbide.

Other CICSiC project partners are Archer Technicoat Limited (ATL), TISICS Metal Composites and Cygnet Texkimp.

According to the AMRC, the project aimed to develop a new reel-to-reel coating technology to replace the current batch coating method to apply interphase coatings to CMCs. In the batch coating method, a preform is made from uncoated fiber which is treated in one step, making it difficult to ensure an even coverage of all areas of the preform with equal precision, the center said. The new method uses a reel-to-reel process to apply the interphase coating in which material is wound from its original spool onto a new spool with the interphase being applied in-between. According to the AMRC, this can improve coating uniformity, and as the material is still on a spool, it can more easily be used in fiber processing technologies.

Improving the coating could in turn improve their mechanical properties, and reduce component weight and cooling requirements, making them make them more suitable for aerospace applications.

The AMRC’s role in the project focused on the industrial scale processing of silicon carbide fibers to produce preforms with increased complexity. “Utilising silicon carbide fibers in processing technologies such as weaving and tailored fiber placement (TFP) is important for building confidence in the handling of these materials so that they can be adopted into industry, and understanding the current processing limits,” a press release said.

“Silicon carbide composites are of interest to many industry sectors looking at high temperature applications,” said Steffan Lea, a technical fellow in the AMRC’s composites team. “The ability to produce more complex preforms from continuous silicon carbide fibre will enable new designs and applications for this high performance CMC material.”

The CICSiC was funded by the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP), a £15 m programme to develop new aerospace technologies in the UK.