Skills Synergy Leading to RTM Flow Simulation Success Story 2011-01-2629
Industrial requirements imply optimizing the development cycle, reducing manufacturing costs and reaching marketable product maturity as fast as possible. The design stage often involves multiple sites and various partners. In this context, the use of computer simulation becomes absolutely necessary to meet industrial needs. Nevertheless, this activity can be effective only if it is integrated correctly in the industrial organization. In the aeronautical and space systems industry, mechanical specifications often require the use of composites reinforced by continuous carbon fibers. The goal of this article is to describe how, on a time frame of nearly twenty years, a series of scientific and technical tasks were carried out in partnership in order to develop, validate and implement Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) flow simulation and cure analysis for high performance composites. The research stage started at the university in 1991. Nearly at the same time, a first commercial venture by a spinoff company offered the software to a limited number of users, all involved in the joint development of new resin injection technology for composites. In the end, after involving in 2001 an international software editor in the technology transfer, efficient process simulation computer tools were integrated in the industrial working environment. This kind of technology transfer was achieved through a unique collaboration between EADS France IW, an academic research team at École Polytechnique de Montréal (EPM) and a software editor, ESI Group. A new methodology including permeability measurements and resin kinetics experimental characterization was devised, validated and applied to EADS composite parts. A new version of the RTM process simulation software has been fully integrated in 2006 by ESI Group and AIRBUS S.A.S. in CATIA V5 computer-aided design environment. More recently, a parallel version appeared in 2010 to solve flow problems in large parts.