Several Latest Innovations and Trends in Composite Engineering

Interested in the composite engineering industry? Want to launch a related startup? Check the latest innovations and trends in the industry to get inspiration to act.

In this article, you will witness the most tremendous innovations in the composites industry unveiled by the credible global JEC Composites Innovation Awards event held in 2022. Among dozens of win-win solutions, you will see the top ones. Additionally, you will get the fullest overview of the trends in the industry. Finally, you will get everything you need to know about composite engineer. Let's start!

Top Composite Engineering Innovations by JEC Composites Innovation Awards

Annually, since its formation over 15 years ago, the JEC Composites Innovation Awards commemorates big-time projects as well as collaboration between key players in the composite engineering industry. In 2022, the event has awarded nearly 200 businesses for the perfection of their composite innovations. Meet the best solutions further.

Swedish Thermoplastic Panel for Aircraft Cabin Interiors

Annually, since its formation over 15 years ago, the JEC Composites Innovation Awards commemorates big-time projects as well as collaboration between key players in the composite engineering industry. In 2022, the event has awarded nearly 200 businesses for the perfection of their composite innovations. Meet the best solutions further.

Swedish Thermoplastic Panel for Aircraft Cabin Interiors

Diab, a company from Sweden, has designed an advanced sandwich panel for plane cabin interiors. It is recyclable and generated from 100% thermoplastic. The solution is able to meet the topical challenges of 2022, such as sustainability, manufacturing rate increase, REACH conformity, etc.

The panel is generated from the company's Divinycell TP foam core and TP skins. The last can be specifically welded on the core without adhesive film. The materials applied in this engineering solution are already certified and implemented in serial manufacturing nowadays. Thus, this panel is a short-term option for cabin interiors. Among the key benefits, they figure out recyclability, strong manufacturing period savings, extremely lightweight, REACH compliance, and many others.

Advanced Infusion Airframe Production Platform from Spain

The engineering team from MTorres has represented an automated portable production platform for a wing's torsion box (involving spars, stringers, stiffeners, and skin in a one-shot component), thus averting assembly experiences as well as fasteners. MTorres from Spain has already integrated and tested a groundbreaking airframe production system for Airbus.

The key goal of the IIAMS initiative called Cleansky 2 is the creation of an advanced pilot platform to produce a complex composite wing box organism. Airbus has developed the component, while MTorres dealt with the development and production of the demonstration elements and the equipment. They applied OOA infusion to manufacture the wing box. To generate narrow dry fiber, structural components utilize MTORRES AFP. The team used a 3D layup for the skin. For the rest of the components, they took traditional layup with hot-forming.

Key advantages of the solution are considered automated process, one-shot infusion, parts integration without fasteners, portability, low cost, and energy efficiency.

TUCANA by Jaguar Land Rover Limited

TUCANA designed by British Jaguar Land Rover Limited is an instrument for battery-run vehicles shown by the redevelopment of the entire back body construction of a Jaguar I-Pace. In contrast to common fabric-oriented production utilizing RTM which is not relevant for a high volume cycle period or from a business case opinion, TUCANA accentuated improving the implementation of material and optimizing the MPa/kg.

To gain that, the topology upgrading assisted in figuring out the key load path thus generating the construction's skeleton where glass fiber UD and fast-cure continuous carbon were located. To place flesh on the skeleton and connect the UD with CF-SMC and GF-SMC, engineers used a quick cycle period and design freedom to gain sophisticated 3D shapes as well as intricate design characteristics hard to achieve with common fabric. Unique molding parameters, tailored materials, and patented modeling strategy were the path to success.

Among the advantages, they identify minimized CO2 emission, lighter but stiffer body construction (meets BEV structural requirements), reduced component number (means lower floorspace and logistics), simplicity to adopt, and compliance with automotive production procedures.

Audi's Seamless Inclusion of Flexible Solar Film in Fiber-Reinforced Plastic

German Audi AG designed a jointless connection of lithe solar film in automobile fiber-enhanced plastic elements (hood, rooftop, hood, and so on) for high-volume utilization with the help of a high-pressure pitch transfer molding practice.

Nearly 3 thousand m² of composite frames were produced with the use of biaxial fiberglass materials and self-extinguishing polyester resin. The biggest frame is up to 5 meters high with a length of 6 meters and a weight of nearly 245 kg.

The advanced solution presupposes the connection of Apollo Power's non-encapsulated elastic solar films in fiber-enhanced plastic components with the help of the HP-RTM procedure. The ultimate product demonstrates superior characteristics involving top solar performance lightweight design (over 65 percent lighter compared to usual solar glass roof), and correspondence with quality standards in the automotive industry.

Components created with eco-friendly materials, such as bio-resins, natural fibers, and solar film can significantly minimize CO2 footprint. Moreover, they can realize challenging 3D structures with greater drapery level, so the technology can be integrated for other industries, such as aerospace or railway.

Bonuses of the solution involve incredible surface with great development freedom and aesthetics, lightweight design (as opposed to solar glass roof), powerful cycle manufacturing with quick cure resin (means less than 15 min per component), ability to unite solar elastic film with sustainable resins and fibers, and big range due to applied solar film.

Structural Secondary Utilization of Thermoset Composites

Windesheim from the Netherlands created the revolutionary technology of structural re-utilization of thermoset composites. The methodology allows end-of-service thermoset composites to be re-utilized in novel goods. It is a cyclic option for those materials. According to the technology of structural re-utilization, end-of-service composites are processed into smaller elements, such as flakes or strips.

Such elements then serve as amplifying elements for novel goods. Some basic reinforcement and resin should be included but the novel product is fully generated of thermoset composite elements. They can be re-utilized with the identical approach once more when it is end-of-service. Thus, the technology is a cyclic option for the thermoset composite goods, such as composite boat bodies and windmill rotary blades.

The company identifies the following pluses of the technology:

· Cyclical nature for composites that are no longer serviced;

· A wonderful variant to substitute tropical wood applied in various industries;

· Creates circular thermoset composites;

· Delivers an incredible business case for the sector.

Innovative Recyclable Material by KAIROS

KAIROS, a reputable French company, represented a recyclable (can be degraded biologically) biomaterial, enabling advertising/point-of-sale displays to be manufactured and recycled with almost zero environmental influence, according to the cyclic economy method.

The biomaterial is a lactid strengthened composite panel, designed in sandwich and monolithic constructions. Such bio-panels are extremely lightweight, easy in processing, and surface finish. At every phase of its life cycle, from linen farming which composes it to the end-of-service phase, the biomaterial has been developed and tested at an industrial level to acquire a high sustainability degree in its structure and process.

The material is manufactured within a short-run supply chain, from the linen grown and machined in Normandy. Composite engineers can process the biomaterial in one molding step with a speedy processing period enabling great product efficiency at the lowest cost.

Composite engineers will enjoy the solution as it has numerous competitive features, such as the following:

· Effortless printing due to mirror surface finish;

· Minimal environmental influence;

· High-class mechanical features;

· Lightweight;

· Recyclability;

· Ability to support the cyclic economy.

Fibraforce Technology

This year, German Fibraworks GmbH invented fibraforce technology which revolutionized the high-volume manufacturing of authentic custom-built multi-axis thermoplastic cross-ply laminates due to ultra-speedy winding practice. Lightweight development is the core technology for saving resources where the foundation is represented by composites. They are getting more traditional; however, frequently presuppose challenging procedures and high budgets.

The company's patented technology ensures an effective, large-scale experience for enhancements with multi-axis fiber orientation, regardless of whether they are thermoplastic composites or dry fiber-based ones. The solution offers perfect lightweight composites by delivering configurable reinforcements with lay-ups and fiber orientations according to the market requirements, together with the advantages of quick, permanent, and cost-efficient manufacturing technology.

The technology can bring many values as it:

· maintains fast manufacturing at nearly 700 kg/h;

· ensures flexible material combos;

· creates thermoplastic composites significantly cheaper;

· can get customized to optimize manufacturing as well as minimize waste;

· expands performance and sustainability in composite-oriented lightweight development.

Key Reasons Innovative Composites Substitute Common Materials

What drives innovations in composite engineering? Why the latest composite solutions are better than traditional ones? Let's deal.

Various science and engineering achievements have resulted in conclusions that the features of composite materials are frequently superior to more common options. Here are several of the benefits that make novel composites so promising.

Raising Sustainability

The international accent is on pressing matters, such as climate modification and undue waste production. Humans are getting more and more concerned with designing eco-friendly composites to substitute those that will probably get thrown out more often. The majority of sustainable composite materials can satisfy the need.

Serviceable Carbon-Fiber Composites to Optimize Life Spans
Carbon-fiber composites are widespread variants to substitute traditional metals implemented for everything from automobile elements to airplane components. But the majority of them are practically unreal to repair as soon as they crack.

In 2020, a novel optimization by engineers at the University of Washington managed to battle that downside. They generated a new composite as strong and lightweight as usual carbon-fiber composites but effortless to service if it breaks. Specialists can fix the bug many times both commonly and with radio-frequency-oriented warming.

The composite is called carbon-fiber-enhanced vitrimers. Other kinds of carbon-fiber composites are divided into 2 categories. The first kind includes epoxy to maintain a continuous hardness. The second kind has milder glue that enables splitting the composite for recycling, though on account of lower rigidity and strength. But vitrimers can link (un- or relink) without the need for a tradeoff.

Automobile Interior Carbon-Fiber Part to Reduce Emissions
In another example of optimized sustainability from carbon-fiber composite innovations, a firm from Switzerland substituted 8 interior parts of cars usually applied in motorsports with a more eco-friendly composite material generated from bio fiber. This resulted in a 93 percent minimization of material emissions. Another benefit of innovative composite materials is they can outdo their core features, such as wood machined for heat tolerance.

That means humans may be shocked as they discover more about the ways advanced composites might transform the features of traditional materials they believed they knew well.

The above-mentioned are only a couple of the numerous samples of how composites could contribute to the global effort in optimizing eco-friendliness. Businesses and startups could even apply them as values to demonstrate that sustainability moves throughout business operations. For instance, companies dealing with wind turbines utilize them to accentuate prolonged resilience rather than throwing items to landfills ahead of schedule.

Improving Core Procedures

Specialists who are engaged in composite materials frequently explore the ways they might support clients in enhancing their processes. For instance, composite-made screws are ordinary options to assemble decking as they are denser compared to wood types. Additionally, they possess thinner threads as well as relatively shorter heads, making them simpler to drum into decking.

Upgrading screws can economize on employee costs and optimize the chances of acquiring incredible outcomes, and that is only one sample. Methods to consolidate an existing procedure could get evident at any phase, from developing a solution to leading it through quality testing.

Robots Help in Composite Ventilator Blade Manufacture
Many of the current activities connected with composite materials refer to futuristic technologies, such as using machine learning and robotics to design practices.

For instance, Audi possesses a novel specific facility for designing novel composite materials. One of the methods there consists in implementing robots to support generating composite ventilator blades utilized in jet engines.

Every part possesses nearly 5 hundred carbon-fiber-made layers, each used in an entirely automated procedure controlled by factory staff. Robots pick up and move the components between assembly line areas, enabling an effective operation.

Machine Learning Optimizes Composite Testing
In 2022, businesses and startups initiated practicing machine learning to acquire progress with the technologies traditionally used to test composite materials for imperfections. The most widespread common techniques are ultrasound-based testing and X-ray. But both methods contain their disadvantages, encouraging composite engineers to address the restrictions.

A composite materials engineer at Carbon Nexus in Australia once commented that realizing and designing next-gen assessment strategies for noninvasive testing of composite goods demonstrates the wonderful potential to modify the industry.

The company allocated a research grant for this solution to observe whether machine learning might address some widespread composite testing cases. For instance, applying X-ray-oriented techniques is significantly costly in operational and capital investments.

Those case studies don't mean that engineers have stopped making efforts to optimize procedures connected with common materials. But a current big interest in composites from engineers around the globe drives much of the research to accentuate newer variants generated from 2-3 constituent materials.

Advanced Composites Modify Colors to Reflect Bugs
The above-mentioned samples in this article brightly demonstrate the ways composite materials frequently unite with efforts to generally optimize the composite industry. However, in 2022, much work is being performed to make the materials themselves upgrade factory practices.

Composite engineers have already designed a composite laminate that modifies colors reacting to deformation. They expect this will enable monitoring issues at earlier phases as well as warn specialists of potential material inadequacies. Specialists have only implemented the laminate in the lab for the moment. However, in case it operates as well as the engineers suppose it will, the advancement might optimize practices in various ways.

For instance, it could avert personnel from producing composite elements with internal vulnerabilities and reduce possible recalls. The engineers also reported that due to its layer-based structure, the novel laminate is lightweight and break-resistant. As far as those are the most wanted features of composites, this discovery could possess appeal and broad applications.

Further Composite Material-Oriented Optimizations

One of the values of composite materials is that they empower engineers to invent novel options that satisfy requirements not addressed by usual selections. Humans are regularly searching for possible ways to upgrade goods. Composite materials frequently unveil the way forward.

The Latest Composites Built From Nonwoven Fabrics
Nonwoven fabrics are made from fiber that doesn't need weaving or knitting. Composite engineers recently designed an innovative composite material that belongs to that class. They are sure that their solution might be perfect for medical goods, such as masks or bandages.

Developing a material, that can get in contact with human skin for a long time, demands analyzing scrupulously regarding the desired features of composite materials. Here, the engineering team intended to get liquid absorbency and breathability. Additionally, they wanted to involve cotton for convenience.

Tests demonstrated that the novel fabric was more absorbent compared to common variants. It is also executed ideally in stretch-recovery assessments, proving the material would behave well to repeated utilization. The engineers accepted the fact that though other variants possess high stretch and breathability characteristics, the opportunity to add cotton should deliver another remarkable advantage.

New Composite Material Could Restrict the Issue of Cracked Smartphone Screens
As far as screens are the core components of contemporary smartphones, the majority of people make titanic efforts to secure them. For instance, even when brands apply ultra-durable glass, nearly 80 percent of smartphone owners insert their devices into specialty cases as well as use screen protectors to feel calm. But an advancement connected with composite glass might minimize the requirement for those extra steps.

A global engineering research team's investigation led to a glass composite that can reduce screen breakage and deliver a more vivid display. The materials are generated from lead halide perovskites that operate as tiny solar panels as they grasp and preserve energy. The core technique consists in inserting nanocrystals into a poromeric glass.

That technique should upgrade ongoing nanocrystal methods applied for device screens. The team dealing with this solution commented that though this technique is scalable, they still have much work to perform. They require inventing the greatest ways to generate materials with the required features.

2 Areas Composites Will Have Influence in 2022 and Beyond

Now, let's look at 2 engineering industry niches that will get influenced or enabled by composite technology this year and beyond.

Composites in the Urban Air Mobility

The aerospace sector is the leader in terms of composite material advancement. Composite-based components go on to replace metal on novel aerospace systems due to acknowledged efficiency, life cycle, and production benefits, with the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 as 2 aircraft samples showing over 60 percent composite content.

Composites are traditionally implemented for huge primary as well as derivative structure utilizations on grounds of cost-efficient pluses from weight minimization, service life, and development freedom. Some of the traditional samples are wind turbine blades, aircraft wings, and automotive chassis. These components are commonly generated from thermoset composite materials.

The problem of usual commute and contemporary traffic congestion in megapolises around the globe has been growing worse over the last years. Rather than thinking in two directions, the urban air mobility businesses are considering 3 dimensions to get the pressure off roadways.

It is not an easy activity to apply aerospace technology in current commercial passenger aircraft as well as deliver it into a tiny package for the urban environment. Security, noise, weight, and efficiency are all substantial considerations. Modern aircraft have been using composite structures for decades. Urban air mobility businesses are introducing common thermoset composites into their solutions while using more advanced thermoplastic composites in parallel.

The typical practices for composites are considered huge components; however, the tinier interconnection parts are still generated for metal. The sophistication and scale of the metal parts make them challenging applications to move from metal to common thermoset composites. That is the aspect where thermoplastic composites can ensure strength and lightweight as well as the opportunity to create sensitive shapes.

Businesses and startups with thermoplastic composite systems have been facing that issue in aerospace and will go on modifying the perception of sensitive shape metal substitutions in the urban air mobility market niche.

Space Applications

In the last 5-7 years, there have been many discoveries in the space sector, most notably "Falcon 9 rocket's successful return to Earth". Revolutionary events, such as reusable rocket stages were founded by space firms and are encouraging the industry to novel breakthroughs.

Reusable rockets have significantly reduced the budget for locating spacecraft into low earth orbit. That started to ensure the business flow for satellite constellations on a level humans have never observed.

Satellites as well as their constellations are not novel. However, the volume of the recent constellations overshadows anything performed previously. The introduction of ride-sharing (dividing the cargo location of the rocket into separate parts for dozens of businesses to share one rocket) has represented the industry for startups to get the chance to launch their satellites into orbit.

Last year, a bright example was the Falcon 9 rocket designed by SpaceX launched over a hundred spacecraft into orbit, which is an international record for the biggest amount of spacecraft launched in one go.

Such satellites are applying innovative materials, such as composites to minimize weight at take-off and support prolonging the service period of those spacecraft. Composite materials guarantee unique benefits, such as minimizing weight to ensure extra satellites in a rocket's carrying capacity, component consolidation for less assembly period, and the opportunity to introduce characteristics that can establish novel configurations to be gained in the identical size.

A couple of different parts of satellites can win from utilizing composite materials, such as antennas, solar arrays, power platforms, spacecraft structures, propulsion platforms, and so on.

What is the future of space exploration? Will we experience the first space tourism flight in the nearest 7-9 years? We have no answers, but we are sure that composite materials will be an integral part of the ride.