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INEGI joins new European project to bring composite materials and 4.0 technologies to the shipbuilding sector

08 February 2021
INEGI is one of the partners of a new European project that kicked off on January 27th and aims to boost the use of composite materials in European shipyards through the introduction of new technologies for advanced production, digitization and automation.

Composite materials have clear benefits for shipbuilding. "They allow for a reduction in weight, which in turn results in substantial fuel savings, increased load capacity, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," says João Silva, responsible for the project at INEGI.

Equally important, adds João Silva, is the fact that "composites are more resistant and immune to corrosion. They have a longer life cycle, and do not require as much maintenance as the materials used today, in particular, metals". Aesthetic improvement and reduction of underwater noise, are issues that will also be explored within the scope of the project.

However, the production capacity of vessels with these materials is severely limited by the high cost of production, due to the semi-artisanal methods currently used, and the weak adoption of technologies associated with industry 4.0, such as automation and digitization of processes, which would contribute to speed up and optimize production.

In order to meet these challenges, FIBRE4YARDS arises, a European innovation and technology transfer project, with the participation of INEGI.

The Institute will be in charge of identifying and evaluating composite processes and integration technologies suitable for the demanding use of these vessels. INEGI's team will also contribute to the design of vessels produced in composite material, using advanced computational tools, and to the creation of demonstrators of bonding methodologies at a laboratory scale.

By introducing advanced manufacturing technologies in the sector, the consortium also aims to contribute to making the concept of "shipyards 4.0" a reality, and thus boost European global leadership in the construction and maintenance of ships. Currently, the Union's shipbuilding sector has a market share of 6% in terms of orders and 19% in terms of value.

The FIBRE4YARDS - FIBER composite manufacturing technologies FOR the automation and modular construction in shipYARDS project is co-financed by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 program.