The Composite Innovation Centre (CIC) based at Nelson Mandela University successfully completed an initial composites project in light-weighting – project title Weight Reduction of Composite Structures.  The light-weighting project assisted in bringing the CIC to life with the development of skills and resources. The project explored the use of composites in four industry sectors; automotive, marine, renewable energy and aerospace.

Current projects within CIC includes:

  1. The development of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) skills used in the development of a lightweight wing structure for a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA Category). The build and test phase of the wing structure has been completed with the documentation now required.
  2. A project aimed at assisting the renewable energies sector by building a large 3D printer capable of printing the moulds for the manufacture of turbine blades is receiving interest from the manufacturing sector. The project will assist in tooling design and manufacturing techniques in composites.
  3. To address the viability of composites in the automotive sector it was decided to design and build a spare wheel using composites. Custom Works in Jeffries bay is assisting with the build and technology transfer. The project will require the use of Pre-Preg Carbon Fibre materials and autoclave post curing.
  4. Reverse engineering is not the process of simply copying a design and reproducing the product but rather includes sophisticated equipment for profiling the shape, design of the superstructure and determining the possible failure modes. During the development of these skills in the use of composites in the marine environment a sport and recreation boat was laser scanned, the CAD was then altered to the desired design, a plug was machined and the moulds built. The initial parts from the moulds were built using vacuum infusion, the aim was to introduce vacuum infusion as a viable technology for boat building and to ensure that a light consistent build was achieved.