The Composites.Exchange website is a tool designed to enable research organisations and SMEs to share high value composite materials and thereby prevent waste.
It is estimated that 30 – 50 % of prepreg is wasted during production, which is 3,000 tons of carbon fibre and 15,000 tons of glass fibre waste per year just in the UK (Composites recycling – where are we now? 2016). Reduction of waste is the most important part of the waste hierarchy and reduction of composite waste is a key sustainability target identified in the 2016 UK composites strategy.
As we know, prepreg fabrics are expensive and often only available in large quantities. This is ok for large consumers of the material but for research organisations, particularly Universities and small companies, it is a major problem as often only a few meters of material are required. This leads to large quantities of material being wasted.
This website has a number of aims;
- To give users rapid access to a library of shared materials
- To facilitate collaboration with SMEs and Universities
- To prevent waste of energy intensive, expensive and time limited composite materials
- To provide a simple web based tool that will assist in managing your materials
The composites exchange website has been developed by the Composite Systems Innovation Centre at University of Sheffield in conjunction with Razor Jam and was funded by the Impact, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange fund at the University of Sheffield. Our members include:
Dr James Meredith is a lecturer in composite materials at The University of Sheffield.
He focuses on innovative manufacturing and engineering science related to composite materials. He collaborates widely with industry e.g. JLR, Hybrid Air Vehicles and Forward Composites. His Doctorate on biocomposites for bone tissue engineering patented a new process to manufacture high strength synthetic bone and this research continues with novel Sheffield developed materials. His group focuses on composites research in areas that include automation of composites manufacture and behaviour of composites at extremes of strain rate and temperature. He has a keen interest in sustainability having developed recycled carbon and natural fibre composites that saw use on the Drayson racing Le Mans Prototype that holds the electric vehicle speed record. His desire to prevent waste of composite materials and form collaborative research links led him to develop the composites exchange website.
Patrick Fairclough is Professor of composite materials at Sheffield University.
He has 23 years’ experience in structured materials and has worked extensively on self-structured materials and surfaces. He was jointly awarded the IChemE award for innovative product of the year in 2011 for his work on block copolymers. He has worked with a number of leading companies on structure formation in polymer systems, including Unilever, Procter and Gamble, The Dow Chemical Company, Sun Chemicals, ICI and Azko Nobel. The knowledge gained has been used in two TSB Knowledge Transfer Partnerships addressing degradation and stability of polymer systems for Off-Shore Wind energy and biodegradable polymer composites, delivering impact into two market sectors at the heart of government environmental policy. He recently (September 2013) moved from Chemistry to Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield as part of a drive to create links between the Science and Engineering faculties, with a brief of bringing the developments from Science through into Engineering and then onto the wider manufacturing base both through the AMRC and commercial manufacturers.
Dr Patrick Smith is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield.
His principal research interest has been applied in inkjet printing. His current research interests are reactive inkjet printing, inkjet printed composites, biofabrication and printed electronics.
Dr Joel Foreman is a lecturer in polymers and polymer composites in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield.
His research includes Group Interaction Modelling of polymer properties (predicting bulk polymer properties from chemical structure) and investigating the effect of chemical structure on secondary phase transitions in epoxy resins (glass transition and sub-ambient transitions).
Dr Simon Hayes has worked widely in the field of Smart Materials for the past 22 years.
He developed the field of optical self-sensing, whereby damage in composite materials is monitored by optical changes in the reinforcing fibres. He is also active in the field of electrical self-sensing in carbon fibre composites, where damage alters the local resistance of the panel facilitating its detection.
Along with a colleague he developed the first solid-state self-healing system for composite materials, using dissolved thermoplastics as the healing medium for epoxy resins. This approach has proven capable of restoring composite properties up to approximately 98% of the undamaged state depending on the nature of the damage. More recently he has worked on the direct electrical cure of composite components, applying current to carbon reinforcing fibres in order to locally heat and cure the parts.
We welcome your feedback about the Composites.Exchange website.
If you can think of any improvements or spot a problem, then please contact us.