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Title:
COMPOSITE MATERIAL COMPONENT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/076486
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A composite material component is described which comprises a core (18) impregnated by and embedded within a matrix material (20) to define a main portion (12) and a radially outwardly extending bead (14) encircling the main portion (12), the bead (14) being separated from the main portion (12) by a reduced thickness neck (16), wherein the neck (16) is structurally weaker than the bead (14).

Inventors:
CHASE IAN THOMAS (GB)
LEWIS PAUL ANTHONY (GB)
Application Number:
GB2012/052884
Publication Date:
May 30, 2013
Filing Date:
November 21, 2012
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CROMPTON TECHNOLOGY GROUP LTD (Thorpe Park, Thorpe Way, Banbury Oxfordshire OX16 4SU, GB)
International Classes:
G01P15/06; B29C70/08
Domestic Patent References:
Foreign References:
CN2115860U
EP2116356A2
US20060234007A1
US4917938A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAILEY, Richard (20 Imperial Square, Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL50 1QZ, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A composite material component comprising a core impregnated by and embedded within a matrix material to define a main portion and a radially outwardly extending bead encircling the main portion, the bead being separated from the main portion by a reduced thickness neck, wherein the neck is structurally weaker than the bead.

2. A component according to Claim 1 , wherein the component is of generally planar form.

3. A component according to Ciaim 1, wherein the component includes a part of generally planar form defining at least part of the main portion, the bead and the neck. 4. A component according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the core comprises one or more layers of a woven fibrous material.

5. A component according to Claim 4, wherein the core is of woven carbon fibre, aramid fibre or glass fibre form.

6. A component according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the bead is provided with at ieast one generally circumferentially extending reinforcing hoop.

7. A component according to Claim 6, wherein the hoop is of fibrous form.

8. A component according to Claim 7, wherein the hoop comprises one or more tows of reinforcing fibres stitched to the part of the core forming the bead, prior to impregnation, to define one or more annular loops of reinforcement. 9. A torque disc comprising a component as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the main portion thereof is formed with fixings or fixing points.

Description:
Composite Material Component

This invention relates to a composite material component, and in particular to a component of enhanced ability to withstand impacts without reducing the ability thereof to function normally, and in which the magnitude of impacts experienced by the component can be assessed.

The use of composite materials in the manufacture of a number of components, for example for use in aerospace and automotive applications, is becoming increasingly common. The use of such composite materials is advantageous in that significant weight savings can be achieved without reducing the strength of the component. By way of example, EP2116356 describes the use of fibre reinforced composite materials in the supporting struts for a deck of an aircraft fuselage. Composite materials can be vulnerable to impact damage, resulting in the formation of cracks, fibre failures within parts of the component, or delamination thereof. Such damage can significantly impair the performance of the component, and so it is important for composite material components to be inspected for such damage. However, as the nature of the damage can be very difficult to evaluate simply by visual inspection, it is often necessary for the components to be inspected to be removed and then assessed using non-destructive, for example ultra-sound or X-ray based, inspection techniques involving significant cost and complexity. Clearly, the need to remove the components and conduct such inspection techniques to determine whether or not the components are suitable for continued use is inconvenient.

Impact damage may also occur prior to installation and use of a component. For example, damage could occur during storage or transportation thereof. Inspection of components prior to installation may also be necessary. Clearly, whilst such inspection will not require an initial step of removal of the component prior to inspection, the relatively complex inspection processes used adds additional complexity to the manufacturing and installation process and so is undesirable.

Rather than use inspection techniques of the type outlined hereinbefore, another technique that is known is to incorporate micro-capsules containing a dye in or on the component. In the event that the component is damaged, one or more of the micro- capsules will burst, providing a visible indication that an impact has taken place. Whilst indicating that the component has been involved in an impact, this technique does not provide an accurate indication of the magnitude of the impact and so provides little assistance in determining whether or not the component is still suitable for use. Also, no additional protection against impact damage is provided. It is also noted that a composite component can be made more impact resistant by increasing the size and/or weight thereof or by incorporating a protective shroud in its operating location. However, these features add considerably to the cost and weight of the component or assembly.

US2006/0234007 describes a technique whereby damage to the edge of a layered fibre reinforced material can be guarded against and any such damage can be detected. The technique simply involves securing a shield to the relevant part of the material to guard against damage, and providing the shield with an impact indicating paint or the like to indicate when an impact has been experienced. US4917938 discloses another impact indication technique in which a filamentary material layer is provided forming a thin outer layer of the material which delaminates and discolours in the event of an impact thereto. It is an object of the invention to provide a component of enhanced ability to withstand impacts and wherein the magnitude of impacts experienced thereby can be assessed.

According to the present invention there is provided a composite material component comprising a core impregnated by and embedded within a matrix material to define a main portion and a radially outwardly extending bead encircling the main portion, the bead being separated from the main portion by a reduced thickness neck, wherein the neck is structurally weaker than the bead.

In use, in the event that the component is impacted, and the impact is experienced by the bead, the bead will provide protection for the main portion against damage, and any resulting damage to the component will be located, primarily, in the neck region as this is weaker than the bead. The damage to the neck will take the form of cracks or crazing of the matrix material and so will be apparent upon visual inspection. The lengths of the cracks or crazed parts of the neck will provide an indication of the magnitude of the impact, and the position of the cracks or crazed parts will provide an indication of the location and orientation of the impact, and so ailow an assessment to be made of whether the component is in a condition suitable for continued use. As the impact was borne by the bead and the damage sustained to the neck, it will be appreciated that damage to the main portion of the component is minimised. The bead will remain in position after the impact, and so will continue to provide protection to the main portion of the component.

The component is conveniently of generally planar form, or includes a part of generally planar form defining at least part of the main portion, the bead and the neck. For example, the component may be in the form of a disc. Alternatively, it may comprise a generaliy tubular component with the bead being defined by a radially outwardly flared flange thereof, or be of another form incorporating a generally planar, radially outwardly extending flange forming part of the main portion, the bead and the neck. The core conveniently comprises one or more layers of a woven fibrous material. For example, it could be of carbon fibre, aramid fibre or glass fibre form.

The bead is conveniently provided with generally circumferentially extending reinforcing hoops. The hoops may be of fibrous form. For example, one or more tows of reinforcing fibres may be stitched to the part of the core forming the bead, prior to impregnation, to define one or more annular loops of reinforcement, it will be appreciated that the provision of such reinforcement assists in ensuring that the bead is stronger, and so better able to withstand impacts, than the neck. One form of component to which the invention may be applied is a torque disc. However, it will be appreciated that the invention is not restricted in this regard and may be applied to a range of other components.

The invention will further be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a diagrammatic perspective view of a composite material component according to an embodiment of the invention; and Figure 2 is a sectional view, to an enlarged scale, of part of the component of Figure 1. The component 10 illustrated in Figure 1 is of generally planar, disc-like form, comprising a central, main portion 12 encircled by an annular bead 14. The bead 14 is separated from the main portion 12, but connected thereto, by a neck 16 of reduced thickness which is structurally weaker than the bead 14.

By way of example, the component 10 could take the form of a torque disc for transmitting torque between a pair of generally coaxia!ly arranged rotating shafts or other components, the main portion 12 being formed with fixings or fixing points to allow the securing of the main portion 12 to the respective shafts. Alternatively, the component 10 could take the form of a tube or shaft. In such an arrangement, a central part of the main portion 2 may be shaped to form such a tube or shaft, with the radially outer part of the main portion 12, neck 16 and bead 14 taking substantially the form illustrated.

The precise use of the component 10 is not of relevance to the invention and so will not be described in further detail, save to note that the invention may be applied to a very wide range of components suitable for use in a number of different applications. The component 10 is of composite form, comprising (in this embodiment) a generally planar central core 18 made up of one or more layers 18a of a woven fibrous material such as a carbon fibre, glass fibre or aramid fibre weave. The central core 18 is impregnated by and embedded within a resin matrix material 20, moulded to take the desired generally planar shape to allow the main portion 12 to perform its intended function, and also to result in the formation of the bead 14 and neck 16 radially outward of and coplanar with the main portion 12. The manufacturing process used to form the component 10 is a conventional composite material manufacturing process, with the exception that it involves the formation of the component with the bead 16 and neck 14. As shown in Figure 2, the part of the component 10 defining the bead 14 incorporates one or more, in this case four, reinforcing hoops 22. The reinforcing hoops 22 are formed by stitching or otherwise securing a suitable reinforcing material to the core 8 prior to impregnation. By way of example, one or more tows of a carbon fibre or other fibrous reinforcing material may be stitched to the core 18. Conveniently, rather than stitch the tows directly to a woven material, the tows are stitched to a non-woven veil layer (not shown) forming part of the core 18, extending adjacent the woven fibrous material layer(s) 18a thereof.

In use, if the component 10 is subject to an impact, the impact being experienced by the bead 16, the bead 16 will prevent contact with the main portion 2 and so minimise the risk of damage thereto. If the magnitude of the impact is greater than a predetermined level, then the impact will cause the neck 16 to crack or become crazed, providing a visible indication that a large impact has been experienced, it will be appreciated that the neck is the part of the component 10 which will be subject to most damage and this is intentionally designed to be the part of the component 10 of weakest form, the bead 16 incorporating the reinforcing hoops 22 and so being of good strength. As is clear from Figure 2, the bead 16 is conveniently of greater thickness than the main portion 12, thus providing impact protection from a number of different directions.

By studying the lengths of any cracks or crazing within the neck 16, an indication of the size of the impact, and direction from which the impact was sustained can be determined. By appropriate design of the component 10, for example by appropriate selection of the thickness and other parameters thereof, the size of impact that can be withstood without visible damage to the neck 16 can be tuned to the function and strength characteristics of the main portion 12 so that only impacts of a magnitude large enough to result in the need for the component 10 to be taken out of service result in visible damage to the neck 16.

As the core 18 extends continuously through both the main portion 12 and the bead 16, it wili be appreciated that in the event of a large impact sufficient to cause the formation of cracks within the neck 6, the bead 14 will stil! be securely retained in position. It will continue to provide impact protection to the main portion 12. Furthermore, damage to other components as a result of parts of the component breaking loose and interfering therewith is reduced or avoided.

It will be appreciated that the invention provides a simple and convenient technique for providing impact protection for a composite material component, and for ascertaining by visual inspection whether the component has been exposed to a large magnitude impact. Furthermore, components incorporating such protection and inspection capabilities can be manufactured in a relatively low cost manner. Whilst the description hereinbefore is primarily of one embodiment of the invention described with reference to the accompanying drawings, it will be appreciated that a number of modifications and alterations may be made thereto without departing from the scope of the invention.