(GREENSBORO, NC) – Highland Industries, Inc. has signed an agreement with Eurocarbon B.V. for the exclusive manufacture and sale of braided and woven products utilizing Eurocarbon’s proprietary braiding technology in North and South America.
Eurocarbon uses carbon, glass, aramid, polyester and other polymeric yarns to produce tubular and flat braids, woven tapes and fabric. Eurocarbon B.V. is recognized as the industry leader for producing over braided preforms for structural applications that are later resin treated. The resulting composite materials can be engineered to create strong, lightweight, and cost-effective alternatives for use in a wide range of applications.
“Eurocarbon’s innovative technologies make them an ideal strategic partner for us,” says David Jackson, Highland President and COO. “This partnership adds to our portfolio of high tech applications for enhancing safety and further extends the broad range of capabilities we can bring to our customers’ design challenges.”
“We are pleased to be working with Highland,” says Arnold Voskamp, President of Eurocarbon. “Their team is knowledgeable, capable, and enthusiastic about building the markets for braided solutions in the western hemisphere.” Customers will be able to work with Highland and Eurocarbon design teams on braided solutions immediately.
A new fibre-overbraiding technique has the potential to improve efficiency in the production of composite structures. A new simulation programme reduces costly trial runs with the modern overbraiding machine.
NLR is assisting company Eurocarbon with the refinement of braiding technology used to produce hollow composite structures. The project – ‘Innovating the overbraiding design process to optimise the development of composite aircraft structural components’ (OBODAS) – focuses mainly on efficiency. The simulation programme will enable Eurocarbon to achieve significant savings in development and production costs for composite structures. On paper, the principle of overbraiding is simple: a machine equipped with dozens of spools, wraps fibres around a mould that is shaped like the composite component to be produced. The fibre form is then impregnated with resin, which results in the composite structure. But the process has drawbacks. The shape of the structure can affect the distribution of the fibre layers and thus in turn alter the material properties of the entire composite structure. To counteract these adverse effects, the braiding machine has to undergo trial runs to determine the correct settings. These tests are costly in terms of both labour and material. This is where the results of the OBODAS project are helpful.
NLR engineers based the development of this simulation environment on Knowledge Based Engineering techniques, applying available knowledge of the overbraiding process to simulate and optimise all aspects of the process. The data generated by the simulation programme can be directly converted into settings for the overbraiding machine. Trials with the simulation programme, including the user interface, have already confirmed that OBODAS works effectively.
In the OBODAS project, NLR worked in collaboration with the University of Twente and Eurocarbon. The project was supported by NL Agency of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Towards automation of composites manufacturing
The Automated Composites Manufacturing Technology Centre (ACM-TC) was established in 2004 at the National Aerospace Laboratory in the Netherlands (NLR) to prepare the way towards automated manufacturing of advanced composite structures, largely in support of the "composites" industry, but also of enterprises, which are new to this material. The centre brings together the complementary research capabilities of research centres, universities and specialised small enterprises and a consortium has been formed of industries as members.
Pioneer technology to achieve competitiveness
The vision of the ACM-TC is "to pioneer innovative fabrication technologies for composites with potential for automation" and thereby "to enhance the competitiveness of its members", by conducting applied research and carry out development programmes up to the level of full scale prototypes.
A co-operation of partners with complementary capabilities
ACM-TC is a co-operation formed by partners and members. Partners are offering services and facilities to help the industry prepare for automated composites manufacturing by contributing to or carrying out R&D projects. Members are industries, which are actively pursuing new automation technologies to manufacture composite structures. Co-operation is not limited to the national scale, ACM-TC is eager to extend the co-operation internationally.
Develop insight in fabrication technologies
The primary aim of ACM-TC is to develop the insight in automated composites manufacturing techniques that industries need before they can apply new technologies to their particular applications. This is achieved by providing the expertise and facilities that are essential for the development of automated manufacturing technologies for advanced composites. Thereby, most aspects with regard to the implementation of the technology at the industry can be covered before large investments are being made. Fabricating full-scale prototypes and pre-series can validate new concepts.