With intelligence of composites to new contacts
A booth of several partners around the Federal Cluster of Excellence MERGE presented their latest developments at the 4th Kompozyt-Expo in Krakow
On the 21st and the 22nd of November 2013, members from Cluster of Excellence "Merge Technologies for Multifunctional Lightweight Structures” (MERGE), in association with the department SLK, SLB e.V., LSE GmbH, Fibercheck GmbH, CETEX gGmbH and IMA GmbH, participated on the 4th Kompozyt-Expo in Krakow, Poland. The fair showcased the recent developments of the Composites technology and industry in Central Europe. With more than 150 exhibitors from all over Europe, as well as some from Asia and America, all fields of the composite industry were covered in this event, from raw materials, machines and tools to intermediate products, services and even final products. Although well distributed among the different fields, Machines and tools for composite processing was the largest group of exhibitors, presenting, for example, high precision dosing machines for two or more component processing, as well as non-destructive monitoring systems for composite products. Other research institutes displayed new car concepts and processing methods, and companies presented their latest lightweight products, including many electric vehicles, from cars to boats.
The MERGE booth was one of the highlights, presenting integrative composite fabrication technology as well as innovative prototypes and products. With 40 square-meters, the MERGE team presented products developed with merged processing techniques, like a lightweight bicycle and a ICE-train coupling piece, made of metal integrated with carbon fiber reinforced polymer to the over 2000 visitors from the industry. Also on display was the Colibri, a single-seat lightweight electrical car, as a functional prototype developed by IMA GmbH in association with the department SLK.
Although the Colibri has drawn a lot of attention, the MERGE booth had more to offer, especially in terms of intelligent lightweight structures. Prior to fabrication, special conductive wires are stitched directly on the fabrics (oriented or non-oriented) of reinforcing material, creating sensors of different kinds, according to the wire type and embroidery design. This leads to a composite with sensors integrated inside the structure, which not only prevents any damage from the environment or attaching problems, but also provides direct and true information about the material itself. Such technology has many possible applications, some of which are already in commercial or prototype stage, like the TWall and the monitoring system for rotor blades (Fibercheck). Others are still in development or in early-prototype stage, including strain sensors for drive-by-wire systems or material telemetry, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, heating systems from within the material, among others.
As well as presenting these technologies, the scientists were also able to get an impression of new trends of the market from first-hand. There new contacts with industries and research centers, for possible new partnerships in the near future were established.
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(Authors: Rafael C. Cordeiro, Marco Müller)