EMBROIDERY is a collaborative Project co-funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Community. Further information on European Community research programmes can be found on the Cordis web site.

Project summary

Composite materials are starting to be used extensively in many industrial applications (automotive, rail, aeronautic, marine, wind energy, construction, etc) with higher production needs than the yielded by current manufacturing technologies. This partially hinders a higher widespread.

New developments such as textile preforming combined with liquid moulding technologies offer the possibility of introduce a real automation approach to the composite manufacturing. Nevertheless, there are still some drawbacks.

  • The performing phase of the dry fibre is a very time consuming hand labour process, accounting for an important ratio of the cost of the final product.
  • The productivity is also limited by the long heating/cooling cycles required to bring the laminate to the curing temperature (the whole mass of the mould mass to be heated with current heating approaches)
  • In the case of the infusion process, a major limitation is the long time required to lay up the disposable vacuum bag and the associated ancillary material. Another important limitation in the case of thick components lies on the impossibility of heating the laminate side in contact with the bag. This makes the heating phase longer and brings about a temperature gradient within the laminate which can affect the curing process.

The approach to be investigated in EMBROIDERY is the development of a resistive self heated layer able to be embedded within either rigid composite laminates of elastomeric materials for membranes manufacturing. This heating layer will by manufactured by meand of Tailored Fibre Placement (TFP) technology. This will bring the following benefits: 

  • The development of a reusable self heating membrane for infusion and preforming operations which will dramatically increase the productivity and the quality of the components.
  • In RTM composite tooling, the integration of a heating layer close to the cavity, allowing much faster heating/cooling ramps and, overall, decreasing the energy demand face to the current techniques.

In addition, TFP provides an outstanding capability to the composites industry, the fibre steering potential. That means that in the preform, the fibre orientation at each point can be oriented according to the stress field of the component, exploiting the full capabilities of the reinforcing fibre and optimising the material usage. However, in practice this potential is not exploited yet due to the lack of a computer commercial software package which takes into account the fibre steering feature. Therefore, a second focus of this project will be put on developing computer algorithms which account for steering potential. The final objective is the implementation of such algorithms into a commercial software for composites analysis.

A third focus of the research will be put on the automation of the Tailored Fibre Placement Tecnology itself. TFP has been developed in the mid 90s and is based on embroidery machinery used in the garment textile industry. The machines have been adapted to deposit and stitch fibre rovings onto a base material. However, being a relatively new technology and coming from the conventional textile industry, it is necessary to improve and adapt the process and equipment to the specific requirements of the advanced composites industry manufacturing.

Key data

Project Acronym: EMBROIDERY
Project full title: Development of energy efficient / lightweight composite parts and tooling based on Tailored Fibre Placement technology / self heating technology
FP7 Call: SP4-Capacities
Theme: Research for the benefit of specific groups (Research for SMEs). FP7-SME-2010-1
Grant Agreement Nº: 262355
Total Cost: € 1.457.510, 16
EC Contribution: € 1.083.500
Starting date: 01/01/2011
Ending date: 31/12/2012
Duration: 24 months

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