Recently, the Automated Technologies Laboratory for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS) at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) began working with Axiom Materials to produce an oxide-oxide ceramic matrix composite (CMC) prepreg using automated fiber placement (AFP) technology.
The material, AX-7810UD-330N610, is a solvent-based unidirectional and can be used for high-temperature applications up to 1,650 °F, such as in engine components.
Oxide-oxide CMC’s are a proven material for low density, high-temperature components that demand high thermo-structural performance. Yet, widespread usage has been limited due to cost and process scalability.
“Our collaboration with NIAR has allowed us to break through these barriers,” said Wylie Simpson, Lead CMC Engineer and Supervisor at Axiom Materials. “These automated processes significantly improve layup rates and consistency when compared to traditional hand layup. They also lower material scrap rates and increase the size and scale of components that may be produced.”
Several material variants were slit using NIAR’s custom-made tape slitter and tow-rewinding machine manufactured by Mikrosam. This slitter is capable of continuous in-process inspection to investigate the slit-tape quality in order ensure that the material will process through the automated fiber placement head without causing manufacturing defects.
“We made some modifications to the AFP system in order to process CMC materials so that the tape would lay down for automated layup and part production,” said Josh Goertz, a senior research engineer at ATLAS who has over ten years of experience with AFP systems.
“With our partnership with Axiom, we are planning to produce a representative aircraft part and demonstrate the slitting and AFP process for CMCs,” said ATLAS director Waruna Seneviratne.
Axiom Materials, Inc. is the largest global producer of oxide-oxide ceramic matrix prepregs on an industrial scale. Axiom is a leading provider of composite pregreg materials, film adhesives, and tooling. www.axiommaterials.com