A German university is setting up a research project to manufacture more cost-effective prototypes and to speed up the development of fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) components. Partners sought are SMEs with expertise in prototyping of different materials, producers of FRP components and optionally ski producers to cooperate within research cooperation agreements in the EUREKA Eurostars programme or similar funding schemes.
The industrial relevance of prototyping processes in production is constantly increasing. In very short cycles, generative processes such as 3D printing can be used to produce different prototypes for material, form, aesthetics or functionality. This allows valuable insights at a very early stage of the product development process. Such insights would also be helpful to shorten the product to market time for fibre reinforced plastics (FRP). However, generative processes such as 3D printing cannot be used for this purpose due to the complex material composition. Highly stiff FRP are only created during the production process from limp textiles and a liquid resin system. This is made particularly clear by the example of skis, which are manufactured in sandwich construction from up to 50 individual parts.
A German university institute with material know-how is initiating a research project that will improve these prototyping processes: The aim of the research project is to produce cost-effective prototypes regarding material, form, function and aesthetics and to shorten the product development process for FRP components significantly by using the ski as an example.
For this purpose, expensive carbon fibre layers and resins with long pot times are substituted by cheaper materials with a similar property profile, with which prototypes can be produced quickly and cost-effectively. For example, carbon fibres could be substituted with cotton, technical textiles or paper, while waxes or silicones might serve as a substitute for resin systems. Emphasis is placed on identifying material combinations and processes that allow drawing conclusions about the later product and the following production. As a result, start-up phases for e.g. the first 40 components could be shortened to such an extent that it would only take two days instead of two weeks.
The German university will contribute their material and process know-how in textiles, preforming, composites production, automation. They will carry out the preparatory work on ski production, design thinking prototyping. The university disposes of relevant machinery, such as CNC (computerized numerical control) cutter, autoclave and robots for handling and sewing.
In order to complete the consortium they seek SME partners from the field of prototyping of different materials and from FRP component manufacturing. Optionally a ski producer could join as end user.
The target call is EUREKA Eurostars with the first call in spring 2021 (deadline not published to date) or another similar funding scheme, e.g. cross-border bilateral programmes.
Deadline for EoI: 30 November 2020
- Specific area of activity of the partner: The following partners are sought for research cooperation agreements:
• Companies (SME) with competencies in prototyping of different materials, that are eager to transfer and refine their concepts with a different material
• Producers of FRP components (SME) , that want to rethink the way established processes are seen and used
• Optional: Producers of skis that are interested in prototyping concepts in order to accelerate their R&D processes
The next EUREKA Eurostars cut-off that has not yet been published is targeted. Alternatively the university is open to participate in cross-border bilateral calls.
Prototypes will be manufactured in a more cost-effective way and in a significantly shorter time than is possible today.
The German university has vast experience in research projects