The composites industry is a key economic force that fuels the U.S. economy. Annually, this industry contributes over $20 billion to the US economy. By 2022, the global end-product market for composites is expected to reach $113.2 billion.
Composites are finding increasing uses in aerospace, automotive, infrastructure, biomedical, and sporting goods, due to their lightweight, design flexibility, and other advantages such as corrosion resistance. Interdisciplinary research teams at the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) develop innovative technologies and solutions for its sponsors and customers in such sectors as aerospace and space, automotive, defense, materials and medical devices.
In addition to its research capacity in the TRL/MRL 1-3 space, one factor that differentiates GTMI is its ability to work with many value-adding partners, from supply chain management, to industrial policy, Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and Technical College System of Georgia, to name a few – and take innovations from early TRL through the TRL/MRL 4-7 phase, commonly known as the technology valley of death, to a finished solution ready for industry implementation. GTMI has developed a comprehensive set of facilities/equipment for composite research. For example, Figure 1 shows the Digital Composite Joining and Repair Lab at GTMI.
GTMI Composite Lab:
Representative research projects at GTMI in composite manufacturing include:
• Integrated computational materials engineering for accelerating composite materials development for hypersonic vehicles (Sponsor: DARPA)
• Scalable manufacturing of nanocellulose composites for automotive applications (Sponsor: Honda America)
• Innovative 3D printing processes for composite manufacturing (Sponsor: Solvay)
• Non-destructive inspection of composite joints with guided wave and computational modeling techniques (Sponsor: Lockheed Martin)
• Accelerated composite materials testing and qualification with machine learning (Sponsor: Delta Air Lines)
A unique major composite research initiative at GTMI is the development of transformative technologies for composite joining and repair (CJAR).
Transformation for Composite Repairs:
Composite Structure Damage:
Figure 3. Damage to a MD88 from a bird strike. (Source: Delta Air Lines)
Figure 4. Rudder damage on a Boeing 767 from a lightning strike. (Source: Delta Air Lines)
Composite Joining and Repairs Processes:
Figure 5. A scarf repair on an Airbus A350. (Source: Airbus)
Figure 6. Out-of-autoclave curing setup with automatic control for composite structure repair. (Source: Georgia Institute of Technology)
Figure 7. Automated scarf repair tool. (Source: BCT GmbH)
Sponsored by the NIST Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program, GTMI established the Consortium for Accelerated Innovation and Insertion of Advanced Composites (CAIIAC) and led the development of the first national technology roadmap with a primary focus on future technological advancements in composite structural repair for a variety of major industries including aerospace, automotive, pressure vessels/pipes, and wind energy. As an extension of the CAIIAC project, GTMI is leading a major effort to create an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) on Composite and Hybrid Materials Interfacing (CHMI).
The proposed three-university (Georgia Tech (Lead), Oakland University, and University of Tennessee/Knoxville) collaborative research consortium will work closely with over 35 industry members to develop and disseminate basic and applied, pre-competitive research on methodologies, technologies, and tools that will facilitate rapid, reliable, and cost-effective composite and hybrid materials joining and interfacing.
Faculty and Research Collaborators at GT
- Stephen Balakirsky, Ph.D, Principal Research Scientist, Georgia Tech Research Institute
- Johnathan Colton, Ph.D., Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering
- Nagi Gebraeel, Ph.D., Professor, School of Industrial & Systems Engineering
- Tequila Harris, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering
- Kyriaki Kalaitzidou, Ph.D., Frank H. Neely Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering
- Satish Kumar, Ph.D., Professor, School of Materials Science and Engineering
- Dimitri Mavris, Ph.D., Regents' Professor, School of Aerospace Engineering
- Shreyes Melkote, Ph.D., Morris M. Bryan, Jr. Professorship in Mechanical Engineering
- Christopher Muhlstein, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Materials Science and Engineering
- Kamran Paynabar, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Industrial & Systems Engineering
- Jianjun Shi, Ph.D., Professor, School of Industrial & Systems Engineering
- Ben Wang, Ph.D., Executive Director of GTMI, Professor, School of Industrial & Systems Engineering and School of Materials Science and Engineering