Engineering Materials : Designing Composites

In the second part of our Designing in Composites articles, we talk to experts from both the design and manufacture world about the opportunities for innovation. Justin Cunningham reports.

Design for manufacture is a well known phrase, but is not always applied to composites. That is not necessarily because it is overlooked, but more because composites require a certain amount of practical knowledge and experience to get right.

For newcomers, composites can seem temperamental and well-established OEMs such as Boeing and McLaren have had more than a far share of pitfalls and struggles getting the materials to really work.

Simply swapping one material for another to achieve a result is far from ideal. Yet engineers can fall in to the trap of trying to make a like-for-like part and expect the lighter material to automatically give a part significant performance gain.

“I call it the black metal syndrome,” says Dan Fleetcroft, design director at Performance Engineered Solutions (PES), a multi-disciplinary team of design and performance engineers working across multiple sectors and based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sheffield.

“If you have had no experience or exposure to composite materials, then there is a great potential for not getting the most out of it and you can actually cause yourself a lot of trouble trying to make a black metal part.”

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[Engineering Materials : Designing Composites]

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