With the "FiberRadar" project, Fraunhofer FHR, together with the consortium partners Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Aachen University of Applied Sciences and Aeroconcept GmbH, is developing a novel method for controlling the manufacturing process of high-strength fiber composites.
In the production of glass-fiber-reinforced structural components, the fiber structure is fixed by enclosing laid glass-fiber semi-finished products with a resin matrix. Irregularities in the alignment and/or run of the fiber reinforcement alter the structural properties and reduce the quality of the resulting composite. At present, it is not possible to reliably examine the course and layering of fibers in infusion or injection processes after vacuum consolidation before the resin matrix is applied, so that imperfections can only be found afterwards, e.g. by ultrasonic examination. This makes a controlled process chain impossible and results in cost-intensive rework or scrapping of components.
Using high-resolution radar imaging, we map the fiber structure in 3D before casting and allow further optimization steps. The FiberRadar project uses the integrated radar technology of the Ruhr University, the algorithm expertise of Fraunhofer FHR and the robotics competence of Aachen University of Applied Sciences to realize a measurement system that enables the production of fiber composites and inspection of the manufactured components with a precision that is currently not feasible. Thanks to the experience of Aeroconcept GmbH, the technology can be introduced directly into the manufacturing and monitoring process in the field of wind turbine blade production and a key technology for high-quality composite materials can be established in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The project is supported by funding within the framework of the NRW "New Materials" lead market competition, whereby research funds from the European Union are made available for the promotion of regionally anchored future technologies.
The project started on May 01, 2019, and will demonstrate the great potential of modern millimeter wave technology for the production of advanced composites over the following three years.