MASTRO: Self-curing composites cuts energy usage by 99 per cent

Manufacturing of composite components currently requires high temperatures for a set time to solidify or cure the resin. This is completed in ovens or autoclaves, using material manufacturers’ prescribed temperature profiles, which can at times, exceed ten hours.

These heating methods are slow and inefficient: heating up the air in the chamber, then the tooling and consumables, and finally the component. This slow rate of heating and lag in the system is why the designed cure cycles are slow, to ensure that there are no hotspots and the composites do not have an exothermic reaction, which can overheat and damage the part. Due to these inherent issues, it is difficult to increase the efficiency of these processes significantly.

Through MASTRO, a three-year Horizon 2020 project, the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has developed multifunctional composites with three different functionalities to move to electrification and reduction in carbon emissions.

Working with MASTRO project partner Embraer, these smart functionalities – self-curing, self-sensing and selfanti-icing – have been implemented into aerospace and automotive demonstrators.