Durability of Composite Propellers

Process optimization of AFP for advanced manufacturing

Automated fibre placement (AFP) is an efficient and reliable manufacturing method for advanced composites. Further improvement in quality, accuracy and production rates can be achieved by the precise control of manufacturing process parameters. However, improper processing conditions can induce random defects within the laminate, which may compromise the structural integrity. The investigation includes the following:

  • Understanding the influence of AFP process parameters on the physical and mechanical characteristics thermoplastic composites.
  • Optimization of AFP process parameters for advanced manufacturing of composites.

Underwater impact performance study using experiments and simulation

Marine propellers may encounter several types of impact loadings including collision with floating debris. Experimental and simulation-based underwater impact investigation on marine composites is limited. Resistance to impact damage and residual structural properties are crucial to avoid potential loss of structural integrity and performance. The current project investigates the following:

  • Underwater impact performance of thin/thick marine composites.
  • Finite element based impact performance of composites involving fluid-structure interaction and material property manipulation.
  • Multi-scale modeling of impact damage development on thick composites with geometrical features of a marine propeller.

Seawater ageing

Composite propellers undergo ageing while being submerged in the marine environment. Exposure to varying temperatures and water absorption may affect its mechanical and physical characteristics. The current project thus investigates the following:
  • Use of embedded sensors to detect moisture absorption and its effect on physical and mechanical characteristics due to seawater ageing.
  • Role of crystallinity on the variation of characteristics in thermoplastic composites due to seawater ageing.

Predictive model development for performance assessment

Current trend in manufacturing is towards digitalization of technologies and processes. Focus has shifted from the performance of single machines and processes towards integration across the entire development chain. 3D printing (Automated Fibre Placement process), extensive digital monitoring framework (embedded sensors), digital twins (virtual simulation) and advanced algorithms (Machine Learning tools such as Artificial Neural Network) are part of major technology pillars towards emerging ‘Industry 4.0’. The project aims at integrating these technologies together for advanced manufacturing of marine composite propellers with enhanced performance.

  • Development of predictive models for performance assessment (including impact behavior) of marine composite propellers.