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The core of the project is the manufacturing and modification of the nanocellulose. Two alternative approaches for the manufacturing of the in-situ modified nanocellulose will be used: Masuko and pearl milling. Both processes will be conducted in the pre-polymer (monomer or oligomer), thus avoiding the problems related to incompatibility of the aqueous medium and plastics and creating an optimal, homogenous dispersion of the nanofibres in the resin which will be cured to the composite structure. Further, equally important advantage of this approach is the possibility to achieve consistencies 20 – 50 times higher than those possible in water medium. During the fibrillation, acrylic and epoxy grafting of the cellulose will be conducted to enable permanent, covalent bonding of the reinforcement fibre into the polymer matrix to be formed during the next step of the processing. Once produced, the resin containing the functionalised nanoreinforcement will be used for the following components of the structural sandwich composite:

A) Expanded, nano-reinforced core. The core is produced using chemical and physical blowing agents, resulting in a low density (‹50 kg/m3) foams with high compression strength.

B) Nano-reinforced skin. The resin containing the nano-fibre reinforcement will be used to dispersion coat the expanded core, followed by curing with IR/UV. The coating will also be used to reinforce the cell walls of a thermoplastic honeycomb core targeting improvement of its mechanical performance. Alternatively, supports produced by fibre forming processes (foam forming) are impregnated with the resin, and cured in contact with the core. Parallel with the development of the expanded thermoset core, an inline production process based on expanded thermoplastic core will be developed. The system is based on coating of extrusion profiles with the nano-reinforced resin. UV curing is integrated in the process to facilitate the formation of the cured, reinforced skin layer.

Click to enlarge photos.
Masuko device.
Photo: Bergius
Airbus A380, upper deck.
Photo: Diehl
Lightweight pipe.
Photo: Diehl
Laboratory basket bead mill model CA with an adapted TML milling system.
Photo:VMA Getzmann 
InCom is a Collaborative small or medium –scale focused research project financed under FP7-FoF.NMP.2013-10 Manufacturing processes for products made of composites or engineered metallic materials of the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission