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College of Engineering and Computing

Research

The SmartStateTM Center for Multifunctional Materials and Structures focueses on 3D printing with continious carbon reinforced fiber polymers, induction welding of thermoplastic composites, and steered fiber laminate optimization.

3D printing

Research goals

  1. Overprinting and reinforcement on large parts; standard 3D printed parts & thin-walled parts with in-process (automated) addition of local features.
  2. Toolless decentralized integral manufacturing; reduction in lead and process times and quality assurance from automation.
  3. Remote Manufacturing; on-demand functional replacement parts, and off-shore or in-space manufacturing.
3D printer

3D printed part

Current research focus areas

  1. Printer design & development; multi-material (through multi-nozzle software and equipment), continuous fiber reinforced engineering thermoplastics, and robot based 6+ axes printers.
  2. Filament material production; monofilament, and continuous fiber filament.
  3. Software development; tool path generation, optimization & parsing for KUKA, PLC programming & integration, and robotics simulation.
  4. Testing & characterization; digital & optical microscopy, material characterization using TGA/DSC; void volume & fiber volume, and mechanical testing (tensile)

3D printer software

Computational mechanics

Research goals

  1. Better structures by manipulating fiber angles from point to point, from ply to ply.
  2. Discretization of the design space: parametrize the fiber angle distribution throughout a part.
  3. Discretization of the behavioral space: FE based mechanical, thermal, electro-magnetic responses.

Current research focus areas

  1. Connecting the theoretical design space to the AFP based manufacturing reality.
  2. Search methods to explore the design space.

TopSteer

Induction welding of thermoplastic composites

 Research goals

  1. Prevent usage of adhesives and mechanical fasteners for joints in thermoplastic composite structures.
  2. Cut down/eliminate recurring cost associated with mechanical fasteners and adhesives.
  3. Cut down on overall weight of thermoplastic composite structures (i.e. airframe weight of a flight vehicle).
  4. Being able to design for inducting welding

Welding setup

Current research focus areas

  1. Induction welder development; coil design, high power induction welding, heat management systems, induction welding tooling design, induction heating for consolidation of laminates and post-processing.
  2. Software development; modeling of induction welding, process for manufacturability, design for induction welding, and process parameter development.
  3. Material characterization and testing; characterization of thermoplastic material systems through mechanical, thermal, and physical testing, microscopy, and building block approach for mechanical testing
  4. Minimal invasive in-situ monitoring; McNAIR, Zeus, Luna, SCRA developed optical fiber technology for: time-above-temperature monitoring in weld zone, minimal to no influence on structural performance, monitoring of part from manufacturing to end of life.

Insitu monitoring


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.

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