Design & Development & Testing of Composites

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Design & Development & Testing of Composites

WHAT ARE COMPOSITES ?

Composite materials are engineered materials made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical and/or chemical properties which remain separate and distinct on a macroscopic level within the finished structure but when combined become a composite material that is different than the constituent materials. The goal in manufacturing a composite material is to obtain a product that is superior than its constituents and combines each constituent’s desired features. For example; strength, low weight or lower price may be the motivator behind designing and manufacturing a composite material. Generic types of composites are particle-reinforced composites, fiber-reinforced composites including ceramic-matrix / polymer-matrix / metal-matrix / carbon-carbon / hybrid composites, structural & laminated & sandwich-structured composites and nanocomposites. Common fabrication techniques deployed in composite material manufacturing are: Pultrusion, prepreg production processes, advanced fiber placement, filament winding, tailored fiber placement, fiberglass spray lay-up process, tufting, lanxide process, z-pinning. Many composite materials are made up of two phases, the matrix, which is continuous and surrounds the other phase; and the dispersed phase which is surrounded by the matrix.

 

POPULAR COMPOSITES IN USE TODAY

Fiber-reinforced polymers, also known as FRPs include wood (comprising cellulose fibers in a lignin and hemicellulose matrix), carbon-fiber reinforced plastic or CFRP, and glass-reinforced plastic or GRP. If classified by matrix then there are thermoplastic composites, short fiber thermoplastics, long fiber thermoplastics or long fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. There are numerous thermoset composites, but advanced systems usually incorporate aramid fiber and carbon fiber in an epoxy resin matrix.

 

Shape memory polymer composites are high-performance composites, formulated using fiber or fabric reinforcement and shape memory polymer resin as the matrix. Since a shape memory polymer resin is used as the matrix, these composites have the ability to be easily manipulated into various configurations when they are heated above their activation temperatures and will exhibit high strength and stiffness at lower temperatures. They can also be reheated and reshaped repeatedly without losing their material properties. These composites are ideal for applications such as lightweight, rigid, deployable structures; rapid manufacturing; and dynamic reinforcement.

Composites can also use metal fibers reinforcing other metals, as in metal matrix composites (MMC). Magnesium is often used in MMCs because it has similar mechanical properties as epoxy. The benefit of magnesium is that it does not degrade in outer space. Ceramic matrix composites include bone (hydroxyapatite reinforced with collagen fibers), Cermet (ceramic and metal) and Concrete. Ceramic matrix composites are built primarily for toughness, not for strength. Organic matrix/ceramic aggregate composites include asphalt concrete, mastic asphalt, mastic roller hybrid, dental composite, mother of pearl and syntactic foam. A special type of composite armor, called Chobham armour is used in military applications.

Additionally, thermoplastic composite materials can be formulated with specific metal powders resulting in materials with a density range from 2 g/cm³ to 11 g/cm³. The most common name for this type of high density material is High Gravity Compound (HGC), although Lead Replacement is also used. These materials can be used in place of traditional materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, brass, bronze, copper, lead, and even tungsten in weighting, balancing (for example, modifying the center of gravity of a tennis racquet), radiation shielding applications, vibration dampening. High density composites are an economically viable option when certain materials are deemed hazardous and are banned (such as lead) or when secondary operations costs (such as machining, finishing, or coating) are a factor.

Engineered wood includes different products such as plywood, oriented strand board, plastic wood composite (recycled wood fiber in polyethylene matrix), Plastic-impregnated or laminated paper or textiles, Arborite, Formica and Micarta. Other engineered laminate composites, such as Mallite, use a central core of end grain balsa wood, bonded to surface skins of light alloy or GRP. These generate low-weight but highly rigid materials.

APPLICATION EXAMPLES OF COMPOSITES

Despite of the high cost, composite materials have gained popularity in high-performance products that need to be lightweight, yet strong enough to take harsh loading conditions. Application examples are aerospace components (tails, wings, fuselages, propellers), launch vehicles and spacecraft, boat and scull hulls, bicycle frames, solar panel substrates, furniture, racing car bodies, fishing rods, storage tanks, sporting goods such as tennis rackets and baseball bats. Composite materials are also becoming more and more popular in orthopedic surgery.

 

OUR SERVICES IN THE REALM OF COMPOSITES

  • Composites Design & Development

  • Composite Kits Design & Development

  • Engineering of Composites

  • Process Development for Composites Manufacturing

  • Tooling Design & Development and Support

  • Materials and Equipment Support

  • Testing and QC of Composites

  • Certification

  • Independent, Accredited Data Generation for industry Material Submissions

  • Reverse Engineering of Composites

  • Failure Analysis and Root Cause

  • Litigation Support

  • Training

 

Design Services

Our design engineers utilize a variety of industry standard design techniques from hand sketches to complete realistic 3D renderings to convey composite design concepts to our customers. Covering every aspect of design, we offer: conceptual design, drafting, rendering, digitizing and optimization services for applications constructed from composite materials. We use the most advanced 2D and 3D software to meet our customers’ needs. Composite materials offer new approaches to structural engineering. Smart and efficient engineering can dramatically increase the value that composites bring to product development. We have expertise in diverse industries and understand performance requirements of composite products, whether it is structural, thermal, fire or cosmetic performance that is needed. We deliver a complete set of engineering services including structural, thermal and process analysis for composite structures based on geometry provided by our clients or created by us. We are capable of offering designs that balance structural efficiency with ease of manufacturing. Our engineers utilize state of the art tools for analysis including 3D CAD, composites analysis, finite element analysis, flow simulation and proprietary software. We have engineers from different backgrounds complementing each other’s work such as mechanical design engineers, materials specialists, industrial designers. This makes it possible for us to undertake a challenging project and work on all phases of it to the level and limit set by our clients.

 

Manufacturing Assistance

The design is only one step in the process of getting products to market. Efficient manufacturing needs to be utilized to maintain a competitive edge. We manage projects and resources, develop manufacturing strategy, material requirements, work instructions and factory setup for our customers’ specific needs. With our composite manufacturing experience at AGS-TECH Inc. (http://www.agstech.net) we can ensure practical manufacturing solutions. Our process support includes development, training and implementation of composite manufacturing processes for specific composite parts or an entire production line or plant based on composite manufacturing methods, such as contact molding, vacuum infusion and RTM-light.

Kit Development

A viable option for some customers is kit development. A composites kit consists of pre-cut parts that are shaped as necessary and then numbered to fit exactly into their designated places in the mold. The kit can consist of everything from sheets to 3D shapes made with CNC routing. We design kits based on customer requirements for weight, cost and quality, as well as geometry, manufacturing process and lay-up sequence. By eliminating the on-site shaping and cutting of flat sheets, ready kits can reduce manufacturing times and save labor and material cost. Easy assembly and exact fit enables you to achieve a consistently high quality in shorter time. We implement a well-defined kit process that enables us to provide competitive offerings, service and quick turn-around times for prototypes and production runs. You define which parts of the sequence you will manage and which parts are to be managed by us and we design and develop your kits accordingly. Kits of composites provide the following advantages:

  • Shorten lay-up time of the core in the mold

  • Boost weight (decreased weight), cost and quality performance

  • Improves surface quality

  • Minimizes waste handling

  • Reduces material stock

 

Testing and QC of Composites

Unfortunately composite material properties are not readily available in a handbook. Unlike other materials, material properties for composites develop as the part is being constructed and depend on the manufacturing process. Our engineers have an extensive database of composite material properties and new materials are continuously tested and added to the database. This enables us to understand the performance and failure modes of composites and thus enhance the performance of products and save time and reduce cost. Our capabilities include analytical, mechanical, physical, electrical, chemical, optical, emissions, barrier performance, fire, process, thermal and acoustic testing for composite materials and systems according to standard test methods, such as ISO and ASTM. Some of the properties we test are:

  • Tensile Stress

  • Compressive Stress

  • Shear Stress Tests

  • Lap Shear

  • Poisson’s Ratio

  • Flexural Test

  • Fracture Toughness

  • Hardness

  • Resistance to Cracking

  • Damage Resistance

  • Cure

  • Flame Resistance

  • Heat Resistance

  • Temperature Limit

  • Thermal Tests (such as DMA, TMA, TGA, DSC)

  • Impact Strength

  • Peel Tests

  • Viscoelasticity

  • Ductility

  • Analytical & Chemical Tests

  • Microscopic Evaluations

  • Elevated / Reduced Temperature Chamber Testing

  • Environmental Simulation / Conditioning

  • Custom Test Development

Our advanced composites testing expertise will give your business the opportunity to expedite and support your composites’ development programs and to achieve a robust quality and performance of your materials, ensuring that the competitive edge of your products and materials is retained and advanced. 

 

Tooling for Composites

AGS-Engineering offers a comprehensive tooling design service and has a broad network of well trusted manufacturers that assist us in implementing production of composite parts. We can assist with creating master patterns to mold construction, break-in and prototyping. Molds for fabricating composite structures are critical to their ultimate quality. Therefore the molds and tools must be designed properly to withstand the potentially harsh environment of the molding process in order to ensure part quality and production longevity. Frequently, the molds for the fabrication of composite structures are composite structures in their own right.

Materials and Equipment Support

AGS-Engineering has accumulated experience and knowledge of equipment and raw materials used in composite fabrication. We understand different methods of manufacture and technology used to make composite parts. We can help our clients in selecting and purchasing machinery, plant and equipment used in composite manufacturing, consumables including sacrificial or temporary materials used in the aid of manufactured composite parts, raw materials used in combination to fabricate your composite parts, improving your work place health and safety while combining the correct matrix of materials and improve your products finish, the overall combination of raw materials plant and equipment combined to produce the final products. Selecting the correct manufacturing process, carried out at the correct plant, correct equipment and raw materials will make you succeed.

A summarized list of the composite technologies we can assist you with are:

  • PARTICLE-REINFORCED COMPOSITES & CERMETS

  • FIBER-REINFORCED COMPOSITES & WHISKERS, FIBERS, WIRES

  • POLYMER-MATRIX COMPOSITES & GFRP, CFRP, ARAMID, KEVLAR, NOMEX

  • METAL-MATRIX COMPOSITES

  • CERAMIC-MATRIX COMPOSITES

  • CARBON-CARBON COMPOSITES

  • HYBRID COMPOSITES

  • STRUCTURAL COMPOSITES & LAMINAR COMPOSITES, SANDWICH PANELS

  • NANOCOMPOSITES

 

A brief list of composites processing technologies we can assist you with are:

  • CONTACT MOLDING

  • VACUUM BAG

  • PRESSURE BAG

  • AUTOCLAVE

  • SPRAY-UP

  • PULTRUSION

  • PREPREG PRODUCTION PROCESS

  • FILAMENT WINDING

  • CENTRIFUGAL CASTING

  • ENCAPSULATION

  • DIRECTED FIBER

  • PLENUM CHAMBER

  • WATER SLURRY

  • PREMIX / MOLDING COMPOUND

  • INJECTION MOLDING

  • CONTINUOUS LAMINATION

 

Our manufacturing unit AGS-TECH Inc. has been manufacturing and supplying composites to our customers for many years. To find out more on our manufacturing capabilities, we invite you to visit our manufacturing site http://www.agstech.net

AGS-ENGINEERING

Fax: (505) 814-5778 (USA)

Physical Address: 6565 Americas Parkway NE, Suite 200, Albuquerque, NM 87110, USA

Mailing Address: PO Box 4457, Albuquerque, NM 87196 USA

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