NIAR investigates fiber lay up for ceramic composites

The US National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) has partnered with composites specialist Axiom Materials to research using automated fiber placement (AFP) to make a solvent-based ceramic matrix composites (CMC) prepreg.

The prepreg, called AX-7810-610, can be used for high-temperature applications up to 1,650°F such as engine components, Axiom said. Several material variants have been tooled by NIAR to investigate their slit-tape quality and see if they can be processed with AFP without producing manufacturing defects.

“We made some modifications to the AFP system in order to process CMC materials so that overall the tape would lay down for automated layup and part production,” said Josh Goertz, a senior research engineer at NIAR’s Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS), which carried out the testing.

“Oxide-Oxide ceramic matrix composites are a proven material for low density, high-temperature components that demand high thermo-structural performance,” said Wylie Simpson, lead CMC engineer at Axiom. “Yet, widespread usage has been limited due to cost and process scalability. Our collaboration with NIAR has allowed us to break through these barriers. These automated processes significantly improve layup rates and consistency when compared to traditional hand layup. They also lower material scrap rates and increase the size and scale of components that may be produced.”