Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LAY2FORM (Efficient Material Hybridization by Unconventional Layup and Forming of Metals and Composites for Fabrication of Multifunctional Structures)

Summary
What is the problem/issue being addressed?The transport sector is under constant pressure to produce innovative lightweight structural solutions that improve vehicle fuel consumption. Single-material structural components in vehicles can be replaced, advantageously, by layered...

Summary

What is the problem/issue being addressed?
The transport sector is under constant pressure to produce innovative lightweight structural solutions that improve vehicle fuel consumption. Single-material structural components in vehicles can be replaced, advantageously, by layered integrated multimaterial systems. When properly selected and designed these layered composite-metal hybrid materials enable a significant weight reduction and consequently lower CO2 emissions. Transition from an all metal or composite bulk to a multi-layer hybrid metal/composite has already been shown to provide advances in crashworthiness, impact, strength, acoustic and vibrational performance in automotive and aerospace components and assemblies. Despite intensive research and low-volume production, advanced continuous fibre polymer composites still lack truly high-volume applications in the automotive sector. LAY2FORM aims to demonstrate how the integration of novel unconventional technologies, into manufacturing systems provides an efficient, flexible and cost-effective solution for the manufacturing of multifunctional hybrid lightweight materials. The implementation of an end-to-end engineering concept implements a continuous and automated process chain adapted for a mass customisation manufacturing able to handle efficiently a range of material combinations and products (adapted to Industry 4.0 vision).

Why is it important for society?
One of the key societal challenges of today in Europe is its transport-related decarbonisation, from the road transport to the aviation sectors. Over the past few decades, structural design for vehicle structures has been subjected to multiple pressures of different stakeholders focused in decreasing their footprint and in improving their safety towards increased transport efficiency, reduced emissions and life cycle impact of the vehicle on the environment, as well as to improve the safety, performance, functionality, comfort and perceived quality. LAY2FORM results can certainly contribute to the ongoing deep changes on the overall mobility sector, particularly in the current trend of sensor/ actuator-based interaction between the society, the vehicles and the transport infrastructures.

What are the overall objectives?
The main goal of LAY2FORM is to develop a new advanced and highly integrated manufacturing process for forming of layered metal/ thermoplastic-matrix composite hybrid materials, suitable to highly dynamic and competitive manufacturing environments, such as those of the automotive sector. Unconventional technologies (laser and Ultrasound-US) will be integrated into the manufacturing route, for material modification, adhesion, shaping, spot welding and consolidation, as well as for end-of-life material disassembly. The innovative integrated process will be assisted with simulation, cognitive automation, decision support, real-time control and advanced in-line NDT techniques, in a fully automated multi-stage manufacturing system. Forming of metal foil / carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic hybrids will be demonstrated in industrially relevant conditions.

Work Performed

A summary of the main results achieved during the first review period of the project is listed below:
- A consolidated and comprehensive overview of the process, including manufacturing stages and parameters. This has been materialized into a multi-layered diagram of the whole process, containing the interconnections of several systems, so to ensure their interoperability during the demonstration of the line.
- The process variables at each manufacturing stage have been identified, such as the entire process temperature and pressure expected profiles. Along with this, the final demonstrator has been selected. The materials specifications, characterization and structural validation were performed to define the validation protocols of the selected demonstrator. Studies on material-process-inspection interdependencies and on the multi-material part redesign have been carried out.
- Multi-physics process simulations of metallic and composite layers have been performed, and are being validated at a labs-scale line that is being set up with an upgraded IR oven for the heating process of the composite/hybrid blanks. In-situ consolidation tests are also being performed on a dedicated lab set up. Laser cutting parameters for metal foils and tape cutting are currently being optimized. Algorithms of data defects on a number of samples through image analysis have been developed.
- Coatings based on sol-gel to promote adhesion between aluminum and composite tapes have been developed, following a test matrix that is based on different standards to characterize the performance of the coatings. Laser texturing tests have been made to produce hole patterns on the hybrid materials to enhance anchorage between the aluminum and composite tapes. From the in-line inspections solutions, machine vision algorithms and hardware are being developed to get measurements of distance, diameters and quality of the hole patterns.
- The semantic representation of the whole manufacturing process was defined to leverage interoperability between each of the actors of the process, and a XML structure has been defined in a OPC-UA compatible and standard framework to enable data exchange and communication. A of the knowledge-based CAD/CAM system was developed in FreeCAD and it characterizes the main process and materials parameters. A self-adaptive system based on machine learning alogrithmsis also under development to adjust process parameters and adapt deviations. A minimal version of the Decision Support System was implemented and installed in the digital infrastructure (a public cloud ? AWS) to interconnect information from several manufacturing stages.

Results

Current knowledge-based modelling of such materials and processes can be integrated in cognitive systems that monitor and correct production, and that this enhanced manufacturing capability can further increase speed, efficiency and cost savings. Significant technical breakthroughs are still required to meet the targets of project:
- Flexible manufacturing strategies applicable to all kinds of metals and fibre-reinforced polymer composites thin layered materials, replacing complex and low efficient assemblies of different components and materials, insuring the lowest use of energy and resources along the full manufacturing chain and at the end of life.
- Efficient processing techniques, leading to significant time and resources savings during manufacturing. Composite-metal cobonding (adhesive-free), integrated consolidation/ heating of the composite-metal blanks (typically highly energy-consuming) and the extensive use of laser and US (clean and low energy-intensive energy sources) in all the four main processing stations as well as disassembly at the end-of-life.
- Tight quality control and fault tolerance concepts at the material tape/foil, blank and product-level, by foreseeing the real-time detection and solving of defects along the full manufacturing chain, minimizing the waste of all type of resources, while improving quality.
- Tailored Eco-efficiency and LCA approaches and tools embedded in component design and manufacturing. LAY2FORM will assess the feasibility of the multi-material parts production, mostly based on the efficiency of the alternative manufacturing routes to be developed.
Efficient Material Hybridization by Unconventional Layup and Forming of Metals and Composites for Fabrication of Multifunctional Structures
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