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Digitizing composite production will reduce waste

28 November 2022
INEGI is one of the partners in a new European project that aims to improve the control and detection of defects in the production of composites. An effort that will allow the industry to reduce material waste, improve process efficiency and product quality.

The solution to be developed will be based on the use of innovative, fast and precise inspection and monitoring techniques, along with the use of artificial intelligence capable of anticipating defects and, consequently, determining whether and what type of corrective actions should be adopted within the operations of preforming and infusion. Sharing data between factories will take the solution even further by "feeding” the artificial intelligence model with more knowledge.

João Pedro Silva, responsible for the project at INEGI, explains that the objective is "to digitize processes and create a decision support system, with real-time optimization, in order to achieve the goal of «zero defects» and «zero waste» ”.

To this end, INEGI will contribute with its extensive experience in composite materials, being in charge of specifying the production process, identifying the phenomena that contribute to the formation of potential defects, and implementing and validating the prototype system. Additionally, INEGI will be responsible for integrating the system into 2 pilot lines, to validate the solution in an industrial environment.

The consortium will focus its attention on liquid resin infusion (LRI), one of the most common manufacturing processes, used in the production of large parts such as aircraft components, ship decks and wind turbine blades. Controlling the resin infusion and pre-forming process is fundamental, since, from the moment the resin begins to flow inside the mold, it is extremely difficult to make corrections and prevent defects.

Composite materials are already widely used in sectors such as energy, aerospace and automotive industries. However, both material processing and quality control are still largely done manually, with the quality of the final product almost entirely determined by an operator. "It is therefore urgent to invest in innovation and digitalization to avoid wasting raw materials, energy and time, in order to increase the competitiveness of these companies", says João Pedro Silva.

The FLASH-COMP project brings together 13 partners and is funded under Horizon Europe, the European Union's research and innovation programme.

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