With Dr. Tobias Wille, SuCoHS coordinator
DLR (German Aerospace Center)
Question 1 (Q1): You are the coordinator of the SuCoHS project. Can you please tell us the objectives and stakes of this initiative?
Answer 1 (A1): Currently, the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastics for aircraft components is limited in case of higher thermal loads. This is mainly due to limitations of current materials as well as related engineering allowable accounting for uncertainties from manufacturing operation phase. The objective of the SuCoHS project is to provide new technologies to expanding the use of composites for thermo-mechanically highly loaded structures in order to achieve significant savings of weight, manufacturing and operating costs at increased safety and reliability.
Q2: What factors / observations are at the origin of SuCoHS?
A2: Within previous projects an industrial demand was increasingly brought to attention how to exploit composite technologies for higher thermal requirements. On the one hand, current composite applications needed to be designed to cope with higher thermal loads, for example arising from increased engine power. One the other hand, the wish was expressed to replace current metal solutions by reason of potential weight reduction.
Q3: What is innovative about the activities carried out in the project?
A3: Instead of an isolated investigation of innovative technologies the project is following an integrated approach by developing novel composite materials, adapting related manufacturing techniques, integrating new sensor systems as well as providing new analysis methods. Those technologies will be developed and evaluated with respect to requirements from design, manufacturing and operation phase. By means of improved materials, enhanced analysis methods and design allowables, new structural concepts shall be enabled within the future design of thermo-mechanically highly loaded composite structures. During future manufacturing significant cost reduction is enabled by increased automation and robustness. Moreover, manufacturing processes and parts itself are equipped with sensors for process and part monitoring throughout manufacturing and subsequent operation phase. Making use of so-called ‘Digital Twins’ this information is further exploited for enhanced quality assurance and condition-based maintenance scheduling based on actual loading.
Q4: How will the SuCoHS results be beneficial for the project partners, both academic and industrial?
A4: Industrial material suppliers will benefit from the project by providing new dedicated resin and prepreg materials systems to cope with high mechanical, thermal and fire requirements. Industrial sensor system suppliers are developing dedicated sensors and analysis systems that will be ready to market in order to enable robust monitoring during composites manufacturing as well as during actual operation phase. OEM and tier-one suppliers are expecting and increasing profit by improved composite design and more efficient manufacturing. Academic partners are strongly integrated to support specific investigations and developments of materials, manufacturing technologies and analysis methods. Therefore academic partners will gain from a two-way integration flow: transfer knowledge to the private sector and receive companies’ feedback on their future industrial needs.
Q5: In broader terms, how does the work align with contemporary trends in industry? How do you ensure that your results match the needs of end users?
A5: Within the SuCoHS project three industrial pilot demonstrators are used to show technical feasibility near to operation environment by design, manufacturing and thermo-mechanical testing: a high temperature resistance nacelle component, a composite aircraft interior shell and a tail cone panel substructure. To these all developed material solutions, manufacturing technologies, sensor systems and analysis tools are integrated into the facilities of industrial partners to evaluate robustness and impact.