INFUCOMP project to simulate infusion of composite aerospace parts

The four-year project will aim to build up a full simulation chain specific to the manufacture of large composite aerospace parts using liquid resin infusion. Simulation will minimise expensive and time-consuming ‘trial and error’ testing methods and help to manufacture high quality parts, faster and at lower cost. The technical approach of the INFUCOMP project is to provide an End-to-End Virtual Prototyping solution from preform design to manufacturing and optimise the process to predict final part defects and mechanical performance. The project will cover all popular resin infusion methods currently used in the aerospace industry.

The European Framework VII research programme is financially supporting the 14 project partners.

The consortium will be coordinated by ESI's German subsidiary and the team includes Bombardier Aerospace (Belfast, UK), Piaggio Aero Industries SpA (Italy), Daher Aerospace (France), Israel Aerospace Industries (Israel), Hexcel (France), INASCO (Greece) and academic partners Cranfield University (UK), Ecole des Mines de Douai and Saint-Etienne (France), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), as well as the Institute For Aircraft Design (IFB, Germany) and SWEREA SICOMP (Sweden).

The complete simulation solution developed by the INFUCOMP project will be completed with the integration of a Manufacturing Cost Estimation software tool provided by the University of Patras.

Although the planned research focuses on aerospace applications, it is expected the results will be very relevant to other industries.

“The INFUCOMP project is an essential part of an integrated composites solution package and will provide a unique opportunity to move forward with composites simulation and to develop new tools in collaboration with leading research and industrial aerospace partners,” says Dr Anthony Pickett, Scientific Director at ESI GmbH.

As ESI explains, to date, the aerospace composites industry has mostly used prepreg. Drawbacks of this process include high material costs, restricted shapes, complex, expensive and time-consuming manufacturing, and limited materials shelf life. Alternative technologies are emerging based on liquid composites moulding of dry fibre textiles but the manufacturing methods are not fully industrialised and rely on costly prototype testing due to the lack of validated simulation tools.