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Japanese scientists find way to make lighter carbon fiber composites

Manufacturing carbon fibers that optimize both fiber thickness and orientation, is a new design of Scientists in Japan. This has resulted in a weight reduction of fiber-reinforced plastics, opening doors for the making of lighter aircraft and automobiles. Because of being light and strong Carbon fibers are popular in aerospace engineering applications.

Due to Carbon fibers superior strength and lightness, they are popular in aerospace engineering applications. While much effort goes into improving the strength of carbon fiber composites, such as fiber-reinforced plastic, only fiber orientation optimization is considered.

Carbon is vital to the existence of all living organisms since it forms the basis of all organic molecules that, in turn, form the basis of all living beings.

It has recently also found novel applications in disciplines. Aerospace and civil engineering with the development of carbon fibers. Also, they are stronger, stiffer, and lighter than steel.

So, carbon fibers have taken over steel in high-performance products like aircraft, race cars, and sports equipment.

Also, form composite Carbon fiber is usually combined with other materials. One such composite material is carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), which is known for its tensile strength, rigidity, and high strength-to-weight ratio.

As it has high demand, researchers have carried out several studies to improve the strength of CFRPs. Most of these have focused on a particular technique called “fiber-steered design,” which optimizes fiber orientation to enhance strength.

Dr. Ryosuke Matsuzaki from Tokyo University of Science (TUS), Japan, whose research is focused on composite materials said, “Fiber-steered design only optimizes orientation and keeps the thickness of the fibers fixed, preventing full utilization of the mechanical properties of CFRP. A weight reduction approach, which allows optimization of fiber thickness as well, has been rarely considered.”

Figure: Manufacturing carbon fibers that optimize both fiber thickness and orientation, is a new design of Scientists in Japan.

Against this backdrop, Matsuzaki-along with his colleagues at TUS, Yuto Mori, and Naoya Kumekawa-proposed a new design method for optimizing the fiber orientation and thickness simultaneously depending on the location in the composite structure, that allowed them to reduce the weight of the CFRP compared to that of a constant thickness linear lamination model without compromising its strength.

Their method consisted of three steps. Such as the preparatory, iterative, and modification processes.

In the preparatory process, an initial analysis was performed using the finite element method (FEM) to determine the number of layers, enabling a qualitative weight evaluation by a linear lamination model and a fiber-steered design with a thickness variation model.

The iterative process was used to determine the fiber orientation by the principal stress direction and iteratively calculate the thickness using “maximum stress theory”.

Finally, the modification process was used to make modifications accounting for manufacturability by first creating a reference “base fiber bundle” in a region requiring strength improvement and then determining the final orientation and thickness by arranging the fiber bundles such that they spread on both sides of the reference bundle.

On the other hand, the method of simultaneous optimization led to a weight reduction greater than 5 percent while enabling higher load transfer efficiency than achieved with fiber orientation alone.

The researchers now look forward to the future implementation of their method for further weight reduction of conventional CFRP parts.

Along with that, their design method goes beyond the conventional wisdom of composite design that making for lighter aircraft and automobiles. Also, that can contribute to energy conservation and reduction of CO2 emissions.

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