Easing the process of composites qualification

John Downing

Technical Marketing Communications Specialist

displacement-chart-thumbnailWatching a recent Granta webinar*, it struck me that composites qualification is a huge, and often very expensive, undertaking.

Dr Donna Dykeman, Senior Project Manager for Collaborative R&D at Granta, told me just how huge this task can be: “The process sensitivity of the composite, and its directional property capabilities, mean that a single                                              material qualification program could result in more than 1,300 tests.”

Enterprises that want to support qualification workflows and protocols need to manage large volumes of test and analysis data associated with qualification programs, and combine this proprietary data with reliable reference data. Dr Dykeman said that access to qualified materials data to support composites qualification can be near impossible for some members of the supply chain without the support of publicly-funded programs, due to the time and cost involved. One source of data is the US National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP) – this world-leading composite testing centre, established in 2005, brings together datasets of materials and process specifications, material pedigree data, test results, and reports that can be shared throughout the supply chain.

Experts from the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), at Wichita State University, explained in the webinar that OEMs were qualifying their own materials prior to NCAMP (and its predecessor AGATE, which first adopted the shared database approach in 1995). This resulted in the repetition of testing, and it could be many years before the data was submitted to the Composite Materials Handbook (CMH-17), the leading source of composite test data.

composites map update

Map of Granta schema for capturing composite data

Through NCAMP, each material is qualified once, with the data made available to CMH-17 without delay. This has widespread benefits, including:

  • for materials suppliers: cost savings, and the publication of key materials properties
  • for materials users: availability of published properties for materials selection, initial design and analysis, as well as cost and time savings
  • for governments: a reduced workload by eliminating redundant materials qualification programs, and improved safety by leveraging industry experts.

Through a long-standing collaboration, Granta provides enterprises with digital access to the NCAMP data from within the GRANTA MI materials information management system, making it quick and easy to browse, query, and apply through a simple web browser user interface.

CompositesQED_compare_data_fullscreen

Comparing composites compression test data in the new Composites QED data module.

Granta’s new Composites QED data module, launched in February 2016, added more than 7,500 unpublished NCAMP raw data curves in response to industry demand for more of this reference information. This data supports materials selection and screening, the generation of design allowables, and it also eases composite qualification by enabling comparison of in-house tests with tests for similar, established systems. Users can eliminate invalid test results or establish equivalency, demonstrating that their process produces the same properties as a proven material.

The NCAMP curves in Composites QED currently cover six of the most popular materials, including Cytec materials and 8552/IM7 (carbon fiber/epoxy). Granta will add data for a further 20 materials in due course, providing more than 40,000 curves for the 26 materials – and as new NCAMP data is published, Composites QED will be kept up to date.

The unique combination of NCAMP’s ever-expanding reference data and Granta’s material information management supports a rigorous, traceable, documented process, from test request through design allowable to qualification.

* View the webinar, Supporting composites qualification and equivalency processes (recorded in February 2016), on-demand at http://www.grantadesign.com/webseminars/2016/qualification.htm

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