Project: Development of a Reconfigurable Mould for manufacturing of thermoplastic and thermosetting composite material components

There is the need for companies involved in the development of composite components to reduce costs of development and time to market. The most time consuming part of the process is the development of the first prototype. Several iterations are needed to identify the optimum solution, and many trials are done before the final shape of the mould is defined. The development of a stretch forming die is usually a costly and labour-intensive process because the die shape must be modified until sufficiently accurate parts are produced. In addition to the major costs incurred during die development, there are also high costs associated to the storage and the COtenance of these dies. Then one of the strategies for reducing cost and cycle time of products in manufacturing enterprises is the use of rapid reconfigurable moulds for the manufacturing of composite components._x000D_The REMOULD project, matching with the need to reduce cost and cycle time in the delicate phase of production, aims at developing a totally innovative Reconfigurable Mould (RM) for the manufacturing of thermoplastic and thermosetting components. The objective is to demonstrate, by developing and testing a small scale prototype, the feasibility of the 3D shaping concept, the manufacturing of thermoplastic and thermosetting composite components, producing low-cost complex 3D surfaces/shapes._x000D_Some Reconfigurable Moulds prototypes exist, based on a large number of pins in contact with each other actuated by electric motors. They are applied, for example, in metal sheet forming based on a technology developed at the Massachusset Institute of Technology, or for reconfigurable haptic screens, as developed by the University of Osaka. The limit of such technology is that, in order to reach an adequate level of definition of the shape, and to resist the forming forces, it requires a very strong and expensive structure._x000D_The innovative idea of the REMOULD project, that is the object of patent available to the consortium, is to reduce significantly the number of pins, and therefore the cost of the Reconfigurable Mould, by means of a flexible membrane which connects the pin heads and defines a smooth surface that can be used as a mould for composite material components. This system may successfully be used, when the forces applied to the mould are relatively low, in the development of prototypes with the following advantages: possibility of rapid adjustment of the shape of the component in the preliminary phase; reduction of material waste in the trial and error procedure to identify the proper length of fibers in the component. The Reconfigurable Mould technology that will be developed within the project will be applicable to different industrial sectors in which stretch forming of body panels requires an individual solid die for each part produced._x000D_The research work to be performed is composed by two CO topics: 1) research of the best architecture for the RM system, and in particular the connection of the pin heads with the flexible surface, the properties of the flexible surface material, and the boundary conditions; 2) research on the Surface Generation Engine (SGE), that is the process and control system that, based on the 3D shape to be reproduced by the mould, applies the displacements to the pins. The challenge in this case is due to the interpolation that must be considered for the surface regions between the pins._x000D_The reference market for the Reconfigurable Mould system is worth 30 billions of Euros, that correspond to 10 million tons of composite components produced in the world (in 2006). Though the market of composite material components is growing at a yearly rate of more than 10 percent over the world, Europe is facing a reduction of its market size of about 7 percent per year. This is due to the strong competition from low cost countries. Countries with intensive presence of composites manufactures and end users, such as Sweden, Slovenia and Turkey, are particularly affected by this trend. The only way to contrast the competition is to be able to reduce the manufacturing costs and the time to market._x000D_The objective of REMOULD can only be addressed at European level rather than at national/regional/private level because of the geographical dispersion within EU of technological expertise and know-how needed to achieve the project objectives. The Consortium is composed by SMEs from the countries who will benefit most from this project: Sweden, Slovenia and Turkey. The proposers are strongly involved in the business of developing moulds for manufacturing of composite components._x000D_Their complementary experience, geographical distribution, and critical mass in human and financial resources, give added value to the Consortium, necessary to achieve the project objectives. In case of successful project they will have the opportunity to establish a consolidated sales network that will also produce benefits to the countries involved.

Acronym REMOULD (Reference Number: 4253)
Duration 01/07/2008 - 30/06/2010
Project Topic Manufacturers of composite components require many trials to define the final shape of a mould. The REMOULD project, matching with the need to reduce cost and cycle time in this delicate phase, aims at developing an innovative Reconfigurable Mould for the manufacturing of composite components.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The REMOULD project produced the following results:_x000D_- a totally innovative architecture of Reconfigurable Mould;_x000D_- a small scale prototype of the Reconfigurable Mould;_x000D_- an innovative process for the manufacturing of thermoplastic and thermosetting composite components._x000D__x000D_The innovative architecture of the Reconfigurable Mould system fulfills all the specifications required by the manufacturing process._x000D_The small scale prototype of the Reconfigurable Mould proves the feasibility of the 3D shaping concept and was subjected to extensive test campaigns to assess its performances.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Tehnos d.o.o. Žalec Partner Slovenia
3 APC Composit AB Coordinator Sweden
3 Global Teknik Elektronik Yazilim Mühendislik Hav. San. Tic. A.S. Partner Turkey