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30th June 2017, Derby

UK company develops new 3D knitted carbon fibre preforms

Billy Hunter reports

A UK-based manufacturer of weft knitted technical textiles has developed the ability to commercially manufacture three-dimensional carbon fibre preforms for composites which require no post knitting fabrication or cutting and importantly produce no waste.

Derby-based Preform Technologies has just completed a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project with the University of Derby, the aim of which was to modify and adapt a Stoll CMS 822 HP v-bed weft (flat) knitting machine to retain its full functionality while knitting carbon fibre. KTPs are government-funded programmes encouraging collaboration between businesses and universities in the UK.

3D knitted carbon fibre preforms produced at Preform Technologies Ltd on the Stoll CMS 822 HP v-bed weft (flat) knitting machine. © Preform Technologies Ltd.

World First

“We were asked so many times if we could make the preforms we were already manufacturing from glass fibre out of carbon that saying no became embarrassing,” says Preform Technologies CEO Sylvan Whalley. “This has been the ‘holy grail’ of 3D knitted composite reinforcements and we fully understood what achieving it would entail. The increasing number of enquires for carbon preforms led to an internal feasibility study, which resulted in our KTP project, which concluded at the end of last month.

“We have achieved a world first capability here, bringing the benefits of our shaped glass RTM preform expertise to that of carbon fibre – shaped parts, requiring no fabrication or cutting to fit a mould tool, and importantly reduce waste.”

Read the full article on our Inside Composites website

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