THE EPROMAT PROJECT AIMS TO DEVELOP AN INTELLIGENT RESIN INJECTION PROCESS (RTM AND INFUSION) FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF LARGE COMPOSITE STRUCTURES.
The ePROMAT project (ZE-2020/00044) is a Strategic Hazitek project that began in 2020, and which is led by the company Polikea S.A., leaders in composite materials for more than thirty years. In addition, 8 other Basque companies participate: Abeki Composites SL, Danobat S Coop., EKIDE S Coop., Goiti S. Coop., INKATEC Automatización y Robotica SL, Oliver Design, Sisteplant SL, Composites Quimibber, the Spanish Railway Association (MAFEX ) and 2 technology centers: GAIKER and IDEKO, members of the Basque Research & Technology Alliance (BRTA).
The ePROMAT project aims to develop an intelligent resin injection process (RTM and Infusion) for the manufacture of large composite structures, which allows optimizing the manufacturing time of large-sized composites, ensuring their quality and reproducibility.
The introduction of polymeric matrix composite materials in large structural parts, in airplanes, buses, trains and wind turbine blades has significantly boosted their efficiency, mainly due to the possibilities they offer in reducing the weight of the components, which It implies savings in fuel and a decrease in the environmental impact.
For this reason, new developments in composite parts manufacturing processes must seek to balance costs, the level of investment required and productivity, especially in the case of large parts.
To respond to these needs, both RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) and infusion are expected to be the majority processes in terms of value and volume in the manufacture of composites due to the low cost of the tooling and the ability to make complex geometries and large pieces.
One of the great limitations of these processes is that they are not very automated, so there is little control during processing, and the reproducibility of the pieces cannot be ensured. This implies the need to monitor and control the process for its optimization (modification of the process conditions depending on the geometry of the part, type of reinforcement or resin) by means of sensors integrated in the molds that are capable of controlling temperatures, to control the cycle time and the appropriate moment for demoulding the part, and resin flow to control the total filling of the part and with it the absence of dry areas and defects.
One of the final applications to which the project is oriented is the development of bathroom modules for the naval sector, which are essential elements in long-haul ships. These elements, in addition to complying with the technical specifications required in each case, must be elements with a specific aesthetic in line with the means of transport in which they are going to be located and must be as light as possible.
The bathroom modules can be modular elements composed of an aluminum structure on which the composite panels are mounted, which make up the walls, floor and ceiling of the module. The different parts of the module are joined by fixing hardware and hardware.
The project approach is to develop a functional demonstrator of a bathroom module based on lightweight sandwich panels with greater rigidity than monolithic composite, lower weight (weight reduction of approximately 20 – 30%), good behavior against humidity and good behavior in front of the fire.
GAIKER as an expert both in the development, characterization, transformation, product development and characterization of composite materials as well as in resin injection processes, has a fundamental role in different tasks of this project, especially when defining monitoring and control of the processes, developing lightweight sandwich panels with good performance by infusion, for use in different pieces of walls, floor or ceiling of the bathroom module for the naval sector.