Composite Materials and Processes Platform

Social, environmental and industrial challenges

Societal, environmental and industrial challenges abound in our ever-changing society. One of these challenges is to develop advanced materials and processes that meet the needs of various industrial sectors such as aerospace, energy, transport and others, while addressing environmental issues in particular.

Fibre-reinforced organic matrix composites offer mechanical properties that combine strength, lightness and durability. These predominantly synthetic materials can be used to design lighter, stronger functional structures.

The drive to find more sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials and solutions has prompted not only process optimization, but also exploration of composites based on constituents of natural origin, such as flax fibers. These bio-based materials are promising contenders when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint compared to synthetic materials.

Processing and recycling composite materials requires advanced technological resources, as well as in-depth knowledge to model, characterize and validate their performance. It is against this backdrop that the Composite Materials and Processes Platform - which brings together processing technologies and the physico-chemical characterization of composite materials - plays an essential role.

Qualified research staff and specialised equipment

A highly-qualified team researchers, engineers and technicians with expertise in materials research and composites processing works on the platform. They work closely with manufacturers to study and develop optimized materials and manufacturing processes, paying particular attention to energy efficiency and waste reduction.
The Composite Materials and Processes Platform brings together a comprehensive range of equipment for the transformation of fiber-reinforced organic matrix composite materials. The processing equipment is used to study the multi-physics controlling the processes of consolidation under press or in autoclave, vacuum infusion, or molding by transfer of resin (RTM) for example.

In addition to processing facilities, researchers on the platform also have access to physico-chemical characterization resources to evaluate the properties of the constituent materials. For example, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), surface property measurement (goniometer), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal and optical microscopy, and X-ray tomography are commonly used to characterize composite materials and their microstructures. Mechanical testing equipment on the PREED platform is also used.

Studying manufacturing processes

The work carried out on the platform is driven by industrial and scientific issues, as well as by societal concerns. Processing and characterization resources are used, adapted or even transformed accordingly. For example, confocal microscopy is used as an extensometer of the lateral deformation of fibre rovings during consolidation, or a temperature-controlled instrumented mold is mounted on a mechanical testing machine to achieve greater control and precision in process control.

Quality and quantity of measurement and experimental data acquisition are invaluable. Each characterization or manufacturing tool is backed up by an appropriate measurement chain. The data collected is used by researchers for modeling and simulation. The Composite Materials and Processes platform thus allows researchers to identify the parameters of multiphysics models and validate predictions derived from numerical simulations. This data is also used in the development of simulations based on artificial intelligence.

Research-led training for students

In addition to its research and development activities, the technology platform also offers students training through and for research.
Research-based study programmes enable Master's, Engineering Programme and PhD students to work on industrial and applied projects in order to develop practical skills and gain valuable experience in the field of composites processes and recycling. The students are supervised by a team of qualified staff, who impart in-depth knowledge and support them throughout their research journey.
In addition to research, students benefit from hands-on training in the use of processing and characterization equipment. They are involved in all stages of the process, from preparing the materials to evaluating the performance of the composites.

RTM Dual-component thermoplastic machine with temperature-controlled, high-pressure mold

Hot plate press (up to 350°C)

Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

Published on March 10, 2017 Updated on April 22, 2024