News & Events
Photo Credits: (left) Future Composites Manufacturing Research Hub, and (right) Composites UK
September scoop: Laura wins presentation prize at Composites Hub Day and presents at ICS
Dr Laura Pickard was delighted to be awarded the runner up best presentation award for her quickfire talk focused on human-robot collaborative manufacturing of “thick ply” prepreg sandwich systems. The EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Research Hub Annual Open Day 2023 event was held on 6th September, in Milton Keynes organised by CIMComp.
Her poster and talk generated a lot of interest from the audience about the hierarchical composite concepts, as well as the cobotic layup, generating many interesting and productive conversations as a result, as well as her walking away as a prize winner!
It was a very busy week as she also presented at the International Composites Summit 2023, also held in Milton Keynes at the Marshall Arena across 6th-7th September.
An excellent opportunity to engage with industry, Laura's presentation at ICS on 6th September focused on her work in bundle systems and overbraiding. The summit was a busy event and many new contacts were made. Laura also enjoyed visiting and chatting with many of the exhibitors at this popular industry focused event.
It was a very successful couple of days. Laura spent the prize money on treats and a toy for her dog Lola who was extra happy to see Laura on her return from her trip!
In June 2023 Dr Laura Rhian Pickard spent a week at European Organization for Nuclear Research - CERN as part of her International Strategic Fund project “Composites Solutions for High Energy Physics”, which applies a NextCOMP development to a real-world problem. The results are very promising and a paper has been submitted to a leading journal. Dr Pickard was invited to deliver a seminar during her time at CERN which was very well attended (slides are linked here), highlighting work devleoped in NextCOMP and the Bristol Composites Institute (BCI). Work is ongoing to further develop this collaboration, including a workshop which will take place in Bristol in November.
- "I was delighted when the team from CERN approached me about using my work, developed under NextCOMP, to solve a challenge for the next generation of Large Hadron Collider upgrades. Having started as a physicist the opportunity to contribute to this was a dream come true, bringing together my determination to do truly useful work in composites and the fascination of furthering our understanding of the universe. The results to date are great and have a wide range of potential applications beyond high energy physics. I had a great time during my visit and we identified multiple key areas for future collaboration between CERN and BCI, which we are now working on making a reality. Thank you to Mathéo, Diego, Francois, Soledad and everyone in the CERN composites team for a great visit and I look forward to continuing our work."
- - Dr Laura Pickard
Laura's work with CERN was made possible by her recent funding from the Career Development programme at University of Bristol. Following her successful application to the initiative, Laura undertook a three month sabbatical earlier this year enabling her focus on her career development, including attending dedicated workshops, and writing retreats to enable her to plan and write new research proposals and publications. Laura has used the time to great effect, with the CERN collaboration being one such example. NextCOMP were delighted that Laura was awarded this Career Development opportunity and we look forward to supporting Laura's future collaborative work with CERN and other partners in the forthcoming months!
NextCOMP are planning a special session at the 21st European Conference on Composite Materials (ECCM21) in 2024
We are planning a special session (invitation only) on composites in compression at the forthcoming European Conference on Composite Materials (ECCM21) so please watch this space for more infomation and get in touch if you are keen to contribute.
ECCM21 will be held in Nantes, France over four days from 2th to 5th July 2024.
Professor Leif Asp "Realisation and performance of carbon fibre based structural battery composites"
The 2023 NextCOMP Annual Lecture was delivered by Professor Leif Asp on 23rd August 2023, who is a member of the External Advisory Board for NextCOMP. This talk introduces one type of structural battery composites made from carbon fibre reinforced electrodes. Here, the negative electrode is made from PAN-based carbon fibres distributed in a structural electrolyte , where the carbon fibre performs three functions: acting as reinforcement, active electrode material (hosting lithium) and electron conductor. The positive electrode also utilises carbon fibres in its construction. By coating a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) rich layer onto the fibre surface the fibre acts as current collector and reinforcement. The electrodes are separated by a thin veil and impregnated by a structural electrolyte.
The effects of lithiation of the carbon fibre negative electrode on the mechanical performance of the structural battery composites are presented and discussed in depth along with manufacture and performance of the positive electrode and the structural battery composite full cell.
We would like to thank Leif once more for the lecture which was well received by all those who attended in-person and virtually.
ICCM23: Special Session on Understanding and Improving Longitudinal Compression Strength
The NextCOMP Team are delighted to have organised a large special session at 23rd International Conference on Composites Materials (ICCM23), Belfast, UK featuring 28 speakers across eight sessions in three packed days of talks on "Understanding and improving longitudinal compression strength" held at the ICC Belfast International Convention & Exhibition Centre in Hall 2A (Tuesday 1st August to Thursday 3rd August 2023).
A fantastically engaged audience, with thought provoking questions from leading academics and industrial partners, it was an insightful set of sessions with many new connections forged and fruitful discussions had. The sessions covered the full range of scientific challenges in compression from modelling, through matrices, fibres, ply level systems, bundle systems, and experimental characterisation, in line with our NextCOMP principles to examine and develop hierarchical solutions to inspire the next generation of composite materials.
Thanks to all our amazing speakers who made it such a successful and enjoyable event; Leif Asp, Soraia Pimenta, Lars Pilgaard Mikkelsen, Tomas Katafiasz, James Pheysey, Michael Wisnom, Ian Lee, Francisca Martínez Hergueta, Gangadhara Prusty, Masahito Ueda, David Anthony, Mark Harriman, Torquato Garulli, Frédéric Laurin, Alexander Bismarck (deputize by Milo Shaffer), Rupam Gogoi, Declan Carolan, Laura Pickard, Dimitrios Bikos, Takayu Nishioka, Nabeel Safdar, Charlie Shaw, Russell Varley, Bohao Zhang, Philip Withers, Gustavo Quino, Cameron Woodgate, and Aree Tongloet.
NextCOMP also appreciates the chair and co-chairs for hosting the sessions; Silvestre Pinho, Richard Trask, Gustavo Quino, Rachel Board, Milo Shaffer, Bohao Zhang, Paul Robinson, Laura Pickard, Michael Wisnom, Dimitrios Bikos, David Anthony, Torquato Garulli, Soraia Pimenta, Rupam Gogoi, and Tomas Katafiasz.
Video snapshot on the determination of dilation angle of polymers
The experimental characterisation of dilation angle of polymers is fundamental to the understanding their compressive performance. In conjunction with a journal article in Polymer Testing a snapshot video of the study carried out by Dr Gustavo Quino and the Team can be found on YouTube (kKQ6c2ByXQ0) 00:29 min.
NextCOMP Fun at the Festival of Nature!
On 17th and 18th June, the NextCOMP Team took part in the Festival of Nature organised by Bristol Natural History Consortium at Millennium Square in the centre of Bristol.
An incredibly busy Millennium Square, checkered with multiple marquees, became the hub of many fascinating nature-related discoveries. Large numbers of people attended the two-day event, from all walks of life to engage with the different activities.
The NextCOMP "Woodpeckers and Wind Turbines: How nature inspires novel materials" stand attracted a lot of attention, with visitors keen to uncover facts about and vote for their favourite "Composite Creatures" (spoiler: it was the armadillo). Visitors enjoyed interacting with artefacts such as bamboo, shells, and natural fibres as well as some manmade carbon fibres and plies. A timeline of composites through the ages introduced visitors to the many ways humans have been harnessing the power of composites since their inception to their multiple uses in society today.
The "NextCOMP Crusher" was in constant use, with visitors all struggling to create the strongest composite they could make from a jelly beam and using just two strands of pasta for reinforcement. Once constructed, attendees of all ages tested their jelly/pasta composite by applying weights until failure. This year’s Festival of Nature saw the record broken, with a massive 1 kg being achieved! Supported by our fantastic University of Bristol Public Engagement colleagues, it was a brilliant opportunity to meet and converse with curious and engaged local people.
NextCOMP's Prof Richard Trask said "What an amazing positive outreach event to engage with all ages. The Festival of Nature brings wonderful conversations around the benefits of fibre reinforced composites for society now and what we need to do for a more sustainable future. Who can resist the composite crusher – a simple test, and yet both the ‘established’ and ‘budding’ engineers and scientists are all vying to do the impossible… create a structural composite from jelly and spaghetti! Cracking fun!”
NextCOMP at The Great Exhibition Road Festival
NextCOMP hit the huge Great Exhibition Road Festival 2023 over the weekend of 17th to 18th June and totally crushed it! The Team had the chance to enthuse thousands of interested visitors about the joy and importance of composites. Attendees got to handle real composite parts, including from a Lamborghini and a fighter jet, before attempting their own model systems. Jelly beam matrices were stiffened with spaghetti reinforced before testing to destruction. The winning designer managed to hold 1.4 kg – and even put up a cash prize for anyone who could beat him (they couldn’t). The structure of the broken jelly beam was compared to the microstructure of carbon fibre epoxy fracture surfaces using a digital microscope with a fresh real human hair as a scale bar (some of the team are balder than they were before!).
It was non-stop action for two full days over the weekend; thanks to all the support from the GERF Team, and the effort from the EPSRC-funded NextCOMP crew including Hwei Lin Khoo, Charlie Shaw, Hassan Almousa, Rupam Gogoi, Dimitrios Bikos, Gustavo Quino, Silvestre Pinho, Soraia Pimenta, and Milo Shaffer.
NextCOMP collaboration with University of Southampton
NextCOMP PhD student Nicolas Darras spent some time at University of Southampton recently. Pictured here with colleague Dr Bruno Moog in front of the drawing tower which manufactures glass fibres, he will collaborate with University of Southampton colleagues on the development of this machine to integrate a coating agent phase during the manufacture. It is an exciting collaboration and we look forward to sharing more as this work develops.
Torquato presents at CompTest 2023!
NextCOMP Team member Torquato Garulli gave an oral presentation titled: "Arresting propagating kinkbands: Failure mechanisms under longitudinal compression of carbon-boron fibre hybrids" in the first session ("Failure mechanisms") at the CompTest 2023 conference on 31st May.
The 11th International Conference on Composite Testing and Model Identification (CompTest 2023), was organised this year by the University of Girona and held in Girona, Spain held between 31st May to 2nd June 2023. It took place in the beautiful former XIII century gothic convent of Sant Domènec, located next to the Middle Ages city wall, at the old town of Girona.
Flawlessly organised, the conference was very interesting, packed with lots of attendees and was a great opportunity to network with friends and colleagues old and new with some fascinating presentations and posters.
For previous Composites Testing and Model Identification Conference Series please visit CompTest.net website.
Centre for Doctoral Training student and NextCOMP Team member Ian Lee led the delivery of the NextCOMP Crusher activity at the recent very successful Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science/Composites Science, Engineering and Manufacturing (ACCIS/CoSEM) Centre for Doctoral Training Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CDT STEM) Outreach Day.
Around 50 students from Year 12 from Katharine Lady Berkeley School in Gloucester travelled to the Bristol Composites Institute on the 18th May for a full day of composites related activities. NextCOMP Co-Investigator and Centre for Doctoral Training Research Director, Prof Ian Hamerton welcomed the students before they then embarked on several interactive activities delivered by the enthusiastic Centre for Doctoral Training students which included creating an aeroplane wing, enjoying the flight simulator, pillar drilling activity and the NextCOMP Crusher activity.
It was a fantastic learning experience for both Year 12 students and Centre for Doctoral Training students alike, with both cohorts taking away new skills and experiences. We are delighted that Ian Lee volunteered his time to lead the NextCOMP activity with such energy and hugely grateful to the fantastic Centre for Doctoral Training Team and students for their hard work in putting the event together and making it such an enjoyable session.
Connecting with the Carbon Nanotube Fibre community at Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)!
Prof Milo Shaffer recently travelled to the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Institute of Advanced Composite Materials which hosted the 2nd International Workshop on Multi-Functional Nanocarbon Fibers (MNF2023) between 14th to 17th May 2023. The workshop brought together experts in Carbon Nanotube Fibre research and development from across the globe during the three day period. As an invited speaker, Milo spoke on recent work on wet-spun carbon and inorganic nanotube fibres. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss the latest in Carbon Nanotube (CNT) fibres, as well as other aspects of carbon fibre and composite development, including viewing the extensive manufacturing and characterisation facilities at KIST. CNT-based fibres are now commercially available from several suppliers and offer tension performance competitive with conventional carbon fibre.
Alongside the highly informative time at KIST, Milo was invited to visit leading carbon expert Prof Rod Ruoff at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and met with Prof Woong-Ryeol Yu, Dean of Materials Science at Seoul National University, and leader of the Nano and Smart Composites Group, working on new carbon fibre technologies.
Cameron at Carbon Fibre Futures!
It was an early start for NextCOMP team member Cameron Woodgate presenting his work on "In Situ Raman Spectroscopic Characterisation of Single Carbon Fibres and their Modified Interface in Compressive Deformation" at the Carbon Fibre Futures Conference 2023 on the 9th May 2023. Presenting remotely at this conference hosted by Carbon Nexus, taking place online and in person at Deakin University, was a very enjoyable experience for Cameron who fielded some interesting questions about his research from attendees. Huge thanks to our colleagues Prof Russell Varley and Prof Luke Henderson of Deakin University and the conference team for their helping to make this happen!
NextCOMP Team members at the Composite UK Parliamentary Reception
Prof Milo Shaffer and Prof Silvestre Pinho were delighted to attend the Composites UK: Parliamentary Reception at the Houses of Parliament on the 2nd May 2023.
It was an opportunity to hear from speakers from across the UK composites industry, the event provided a forum for an interesting exchange of knowledge and networking possibilities. A number of MPs and government officials were in attendance as well as key industry and academic stakeholders, brought together in support of the UK's Composites sector. Themes discussed included the importance of sustainability, with Composites UK CEO Dr David Bailey stating "There is no netzero without netzero in composites".
Milo commented that the event was, “A great opportunity to go behind the scenes at Parliament and talk to decision-makers at the heart of government – as well as building new connections across the UK composites industry”. We look forward to getting involved in future opportunities to engage with politicians and advocate for the composites community.
NextCOMP student intern Lucas Lu presents poster at the Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching Student Research Festival
Undergraduate student and NextCOMP student intern Lucas Lu recently presented his poster on "Sustainable Advancements in Composite Materials and Innovative Techniques on Manufacturing" at the Student Research Festival organised by Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching (BILT) held on the 25th April. He really enjoyed the experience and meeting the other students and the team from BILT who organised this excellent showcase of student research. Check out his poster and posters from other students at the online poster showcase here.
Lucas first started working with NextCOMP in summer 2022 as a student intern, thanks to funding via the University of Bristol Faculty of Engineering internship scheme. Supervised by Dr Laura Pickard, he has been a valued member of the team ever since, working with team members focusing on the bundle systems workstream as well as getting involved in supporting our wider activities. He has been undertaking lots of manufacturing and testing work, in particular using the Dobot as well as training our 2023 summer intern undergraduate students. Lucas will graduate this year and we are looking forward to him authoring his first paper relating to his work on NextCOMP soon.
Composites activities to inspire the next generation
Prof Emile Greenhalgh, Co-Investigator in NextCOMP and colleague Dr Anjit Panesar recently delivered an exciting engagement session on site at Imperial College London with young people across a range of ages from The Norwood School.
- "As a world-leading Aeronautics Department, it is really important for us to inspire and enthuse budding engineers from London – these are the young people who will wrestle with and solve the future challenges for the UK."
- - Prof Emile Greenhalgh
Royal Academy of Engineering Chair for Emerging Technologies
Students learned about some of the incredible career opportunities in the field of aeronautical engineering, discovered more about university student life and explored some of the exciting innovations in composites research currently taking place including in NextCOMP and Structural Power. The students were enthused and excited to hear about what potential future technological developments in this area might mean for them and there were lots of questions, ideas and "wow" moments. Students were given a behind the scenes tour of the research labs which was a highlight for many, as it helped them to see for themselves some of the exciting aspects of a career in research.
One attendee commented "The testing department really excited me as you are able to test and optimise products before they go into production.” and another said, “I found it very insightful to tour the Aeronautics facilities and it really encouraged me to look further into the engineering sector and its opportunities!"
The session was very well received by all attendees. Hayley Robjant, Head of Visual Arts Faculty, and staff member accompanying the group said, “It was a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn more about STEM in action, and how this could lead to a career, both in Aeronautics and other fields... The facilities that the students got to see were fantastic, and it really showed students what and how they could be studying in the future! The presentation from staff was inspiring, and really made students think about the development of materials and how this may impact on future design. The students had a wonderful day, and we would like to say thank you once again to the team for arranging a superb visit.”
Interactive Composites Workshop for Year 12 Students!
NextCOMP recently designed and delivered a very interactive and stimulating session as part of the Access to Bristol programme. This important programme from the Widening Participation Team at University of Bristol brings together Year 12 students from a range of different local schools and diverse backgrounds and via a number of different sessions, gives them an insight into engineering at University of Bristol.
Icebreaker activities and a short talk introduced composites and their many applications. Students also learned about how we take inspiration from nature to look for and develop solutions to engineering challenges. It was a lively and interactive session. Students were able to make and test jelly/pasta composites using the popular NextCOMP Crusher kits which was a source of much amusement and learning. The session also featured our brand new activity The “NextCOMP Stretcher” which was a great success. This activity involves manufacturing a range of composites with different fibre reinforcements and testing their tensile strength in an experiment designed by NextCOMP Centre for Doctoral Training Student Ian Lee. Prof Richard Trask, Jo Gildersleve, Ian Lee, Eleni Georgiou, Nicolas Darras, Cameron Woodgate, and Rachel Board were involved in delivering the 2 h session which was very successful with excellent participant engagement.
Thanks to the Widening Participation Team, University of Bristol Engineering for giving us the opportunity to deliver this session, please refer to the Access to Bristol Programme for further details.
- "It was extremely interactive and managed to hold my attention for the whole session, which I sometimes find difficult!"
- "I loved how engaging the experiments were, really enjoyed this session."
- "The session was very interactive with lots of fun tasks regarding composites and practical's increasing tensile strength by combining a matrix and reinforcement."
- "The session was informative and has sparked [my] intrigue into the subject of composite materials."
- - Workshop Participants
Sharing NextCOMP research at the 2023 Bristol Composites Institute Doctoral Research Symposium and Imperial College London Department of Materials Annual Postgraduate Research Day
NextCOMP student Team members were delighted to be able to present and share their research with lots of interested students, academics, and visitors at the Bristol Composites Institute Symposium on 4th April 2023. It was a very enjoyable and productive day with Aree Tongloet delivering a technical presentation, both Cameron Woodgate and Ian Lee presenting in the quickfire presentations section and Ian Lee, Nic Darras, and Eleni Georgiou displaying posters. The well-attended event (over 100 delegates from academia and industry) took place in the Bill Brown Design Suite, Queen's Building at University of Bristol and included talks from Co-Directors of Bristol Composites Institute Prof Ole Thomsen and Prof Stephen Hallett as well as from Centres for Doctoral Training Composites Science, Engineering and Manufacturing (CoSEM) Director Prof Steve Eichhorn. Presentations from across the materials, structures and manufacturing and design themes were featured.
NextCOMP collaborator Aree Tongloet gave a technical presentation on "Investigation of the Compressive Behaviour of Carbon/Glass Fibre Hybrid Composites with a 4-Point Flexural Test". Cameron presented his work on "Compressive Characterisation of Single Carbon Fibres and their Interface via in situ Raman Spectroscopy. Ian presented and displayed a poster on "Highly Aligned, Discontinuous Fibre Composites for Enhanced Compressive Performance". Nic's poster focused on "Manufacture of Struts with Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer Rod Reinforcements" and Eleni showed her work "Towards More Sustainable Fibre composites with Improved Compressive Performance". For further details of the event please visit the Bristol Composites Institute Doctoral Research Symposium Webpage.
At Imperial College, Charles Shaw showcased his work on silica aerogels at the Imperial College Materials Department Postgraduate Reseach Day held on the 27th March 2023.
A lot of Jelly and a lot of Fun as Whole Primary school Community Enjoys NextCOMP Composites Outreach Activity!
Approximately 420 schoolchildren from Westbury on Trym Primary Academy, Bristol learned some fascinating things about composites and had a lot of fun using the NextCOMP Crusher activity on the 23rd March. Designed for Key Stage 2, the activity was adapted in situ so that all schoolchildren (and their teaching staff) could enjoy it, from Reception up to Year 6.
Lead by the very proactive and enthusiastic staff at the school, following a whole school assembly introducing the activity, the children were excited to manufacture and test their jelly and pasta composites and made discoveries about composites as they did so.
Enormous thanks to the Westbury on Trym Primary Academy school community for their energy and to the children for their enthusiasm. The NextCOMP Crusher Key Stage 2 Schools Activity was developed by NextCOMP team members Eleni Georgiou (PhD student on the Centre for Doctoral Training in Composites Science, Engineering and Manufacturing) and Bohao Zhang (Post Doctoral Researcher) as part of the FUTURES festival of Discovery.
Encouraging the Next Generation of Composite Engineers!
Year 4 class: "Is it hard to become a researcher?"
Answer: "Anyone can become a researcher, the most important thing is that you enjoy what you do. I didn't think I could become a researcher, but I kept just doing the things that I enjoyed. I like creating new ideas and working on things that no one else is."
Eleni Georgiou (Centre for Doctoral Training student, NextCOMP) and Bohao Zhang (Research Associate, NextCOMP) recently brought composites fun to around 90 children and their teachers from Avonmouth Primary school.
They developed a very interactive "Discover and Discuss" schools activity aimed at key stage two (KS2) children as part of the FUTURES: A Festival of Discovery, supported by the University of Bristol Public Engagement. The activity introduces composite materials and provides the materials and resources for the school children to manufacture and test their own composites made from jelly and pasta using the NextCOMP Crusher experimental set-up. This resulted in a lot of questions from the school children about jelly composites, “Do you use jelly to make any of your composites?”
The activity was undertaken by three separate classes at Avonmouth Primary school (Year 3, Year 4, and Year 5). Eleni and Bohao then had the opportunity to meet each of the classes with their teacher in three Zoom calls. The school children asked some fantastic questions and were really engaged with the topic, as well as keen to find out more about research and how to become a researcher. We were delighted to be able to deliver this activity and look forward to engaging with more schools in the forthcoming months.
- "The [pupils] thoroughly enjoyed it and I believe they learnt more about composites. Fun engaging activity that allowed the [pupils] the opportunity to use their sientific skills with equipment and resources that we would not normally be able to use."
- "he [pupils] thoroughly enjoyed it and I believe they learnt more about composites. Fun engaging activity that allowed the [pupils] the opportunity to use their sientific skills with equipment and resources that we would not normally be able to use."
- - Teacher
This activity was part of over 20 other sessions taking place with schools across the South West, where classes take part in completing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEAM)-based activities from online resources researchers have designed.
For further information on ones that can be done at home please visit Futures Night: Do Try This At Home.
NextCOMP at Digimakers!
NextCOMP team members Cameron Woodgate, Dr Bohao Zhang, and Jo Gildersleve thoroughly enjoyed being part of "Digimakers" on Saturday 11th February 2023. A free, technology-based day-long workshop event created and delivered by Engineering students and staff from University of Bristol, Digimakers is aimed at children aged 8-13, parents, carers and educators. The event took place at the Trinity Centre and the NextCOMP team were delighted to chat throughout the day with lots of enthusiastic children and parents all about composite materials, answering their fantastic questions, showing some of the computer modelling aspects of the project and some of the ways our work is inspired by nature. Our NextCOMP Crusher activity was really popular with parents and children alike who enjoyed making, testing and breaking their own composite materials using jelly and pasta! Huge thanks for the fantastic organisation of the event by University of Bristol School of Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Engineering Maths (SCEEM) outreach colleagues a really great day which we thoroughly enjoyed!
Settling in: Nicolas Darras
Since starting on NextCOMP in October 2022 our new PhD student Nicolas Darras based in Bristol, (pictured above with Dr Laura Rhian Pickard from his supervisory team) has been a regular visitor to use the state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities at our partner National Composites Centre (NCC). So far, Nic has been gaining valuable experience learning the ropes and manufacturing composite struts using a novel resin injection methodology. The ongoing collaboration with the NCC team is really adding value to his initial experimental research and we are looking forward to sharing more as his PhD progresses.
NextCOMP at 8th International PaCE X-mas Symposium
Professor Milo Shaffer and Dr David Anthony were delighted to be invited to speak the 8th International Polymer & Composites Engineering (PaCE) Group X-mas Symposium in Vienna which was on the 21th December 2022, and hosted by Professor Alexander Bismarck. It was a great day full of diverse and interesting talks, with Milo discussing “Nanocarbon reduction: Versatile chemistry, assembly and application” and David discussing “Improving fibre-reinforced composites in compression with hierarchical continuous 3D reinforcement”.
Photo: Credit Getty Images
Designing for biomimetic composites with Prof Richard Trask
We are delighted to announce the release of the follow up article Drawing design cues from nature: Designing for biomimetic composites, Part 2 by Grace Nehls, in Composites World which Professor Richard Trask contributed towards. Read all about composite processing and the manufacturing of composites and their potential for making bio-inspired structures.
Composites World\Processes\Filament Winding, published 12th Decemeber 2022
Dr Francisca Martínez Hergueta "Impact Response of Automated Fibre Placement Advanced Placed Ply composites: An Experimental and Numerical Study"
= Video will be uploaded shortly =
Abstract: Low velocity impact tolerance is a major concern in the design of critical aerospace structures. Conventional composites consisting of laminated unidirectional plies possess poor impact tolerance, due to the propensity of their constituent plies to delaminate when subjected to dynamic out-of-plane loading. The resultant damage can significantly affect the residual strength of a composite. Alternative laminate architectures, e.g. 3D-wovens, non-crimp fabrics, and z-pinned composites, contain through thickness reinforcements which improve their out-of-plane response. However, the fiber crimp and fiber breakage introduced during the manufacture of these composites negatively impact their undamaged in-plane mechanical properties. A novel preform method known as Advanced Placed Ply preforming (AP-PLY) makes use of Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) technology to produce quasi-woven composites. AP-PLY laminates are more impact tolerant than conventional angle-ply composites, but retain the latter's excellent in-plane strength and stiffness.
We would like to thank Francisca once more for the lecture given on 2nd November 2022 which was well received by all those who attended. For those unable to join on the day a video will be uploaded once it has been edited.
Photo: Credit Getty Images
Drawing design cues from nature with Prof Richard Trask
We are delighted to announce the release of an article Drawing design cues from nature: Designing for biomimetic composites, Part 1 by Grace Nehls, in Composites World which Professor Richard Trask contributed towards. Read all about biomimetic composites and how we are seeking inspiration from nature in the NextCOMP Programme to improve compression performance of composite materials.
Composites World\Processes\ATL/AFP\Additive Manufacturing, published 19th October 2022
Composite "Crushing it" at Up late on the SS Great Britain, FUTURES European Researchers Night
The NextCOMP Team and BCI collaborators enjoyed an extremely fun and busy evening on Friday 30th September 2022 at Up late on the SS Great Britain, one of the events held as part of FUTURES organised by the University of Bristol Public Engagement Team. Despite the weather this was a very well-supported event at the Bristol harbourside and our stand "Crushing it: Be a Composites Engineer" was very popular with visitors of all ages including Brunel and Prof Evelyn Welch, Vice Chancellor. Visitors were eager to watch our DOBOT demonstrations as well as to have the chance to manufacture, test, and inspect their own jelly and pasta composites using the brand new "NextCOMP Crusher". We loved chatting to all the visitors about our research and hearing their thoughts about what we are doing!
Professor Russell Varley "From precursor to the composite: How new carbon fibre and its composites will contribute to a more sustainable future"
The 2022 NextCOMP Annual Lecture was delivered by Professor Russell Varley on 3rd August 2022, who is part of the Leadership Team at Carbon Nexus and an invited Academic Partner with NextCOMP. Carbon Nexus works across the entire carbon fibre value chain, from spinning the precursor to producing carbon fibre tow, and of course, the carbon fibre composite. Carbon Nexus' mission is to work at the intersection of academia and industry to better understand the science and engineering of carbon fibre production and to work with industry partners to transition research into reality. This talk introduces the Carbon Nexus research facility and describes in detail the carbon fibre production process from the precursor to the carbon fibre, with specific emphasis upon the requirements for improved compression. Highlights of Carbon Nexus' recent achievements in developing a new generation of carbon fibre and its composite materials is discussed and importantly how they will contribute to creating a more sustainable future.
We would like to thank Russell once more for the lecture which was well received by all those who attended in-person and virtually.
NextCOMP researchers and Dr Soraia Pimenta at ECCM20
The NextCOMP Programme was well represented at the 20th European Conference on Composite Materials (ECCM20) which was held in Lausanne, Switzerland between 26th - 30th June 2022 with talks given by researchers Dr Laura Pickard on “Manufacturing Advances for Pultruded Rod Based Structural Members and Thick Ply Systems” (second on the left), Dr Gustavo Quispe on “Design of a bending experiment for mechanical characterisation of pultruded rods under compression” (second on the right), and Dr Torquato Garulli on “A novel bio-inspired microstructure for progressive compressive failure in multidirectional composite laminates” (right). Posters were given by Dr David Anthony on “Hierarchical solutions to compressive problems in fibre-reinforced composites” (left) and Mr Charles Shaw on “Designing Bicontinuous Silica-Epoxy Nanocomposites” (centre).
It was a stimulating conference and great to see everyone in person after so long.
Congratulations to Dr Soraia Pimenta who delivered the Thursday Keynote on "Hierarchical scaling laws for strength, durability and damage tolerance: Applications across the life-cycle" which was well received by all. Soraia was also part of the panel discussion on life cycle analysis (LCA) of carbon fibres which was addressing the conference theme “Composites meet Sustainability”.
Festival of Nature with the NextCOMP Team and Bristol Composites Institute
Members of the NextCOMP Programme Grant Team and Bristol Composites Institute enjoyed a fantastic day engaging with the public about their composites research as part of the very popular Festival of Nature on Saturday 18th June 2022. The event took place at Barton Hill Microcampus and was a brilliant opportunity for exchanging ideas with families from the local community. Conversations were focused on naturally occurring composites found in seashells, wood, cork, bamboo and living creatures and how these are inspiring future materials development. The composites timeline showed how the use of artificial composites has grown and changed our world through the ages, which prompted great conversations about how we use composites today and what we should use tomorrow. Several interactive activities were included on the stand ranging from hands-on exploration of the different concepts to a paper straw-structure building challenge. Visitors also voted for their favourite "Composite creature" in which the mantis shrimp emerged victorious after a hotly contested battle with the armadillo.
Thanks to the Festival of Nature and our Public Engagement team at University of Bristol for a thoroughly enjoyable and successful day. We are already planning for our next opportunity to engage with our local communities in the forthcoming months so watch this space!
NextCOMP researcher Dr David B Anthony invited to speak at the University of Vienna
Dave visited Prof Alexander Bismarck and Assistant Prof Robert Woodward and the Polymer and Composites Engineering (PaCE) Group at the Institute of Materials Chemistry, University of Vienna on the 5th May 2022, presenting his work on hierarchical fibre synthesis. The work highlighted the close ties between the two universities and the on-going collaboration to increase the production of carbon nanotube-grafted carbon fibres.
NextCOMP researcher Mr Charles Shaw won the best poster at the Imperial College London Materials Department Postgraduate Day
Charlie (second from left) was awarded the poster prize on the 28th March 2022 for his work on matrix materials as part of the NextCOMP Team. Congratulations Charlie!
NextCOMP researcher Dr Laura Rhian Pickard features in a video series launched by Bristol Composites Institute 7th February 2022
Laura's film explains how, in NextCOMP, we are taking inspiration from naturally occurring hierarchical composites to design a new generation of composites which will perform better in compression. The video Pressing Matters: Designing the next Generation of Composite Materials is available on YouTube (i20NEQ8luDA) 1:51.
Propagation of Compressive Failure NextCOMP Workshop
The Propagation of Compressive Failure Workshop, took place online on the 12th January 2022, the NextCOMP team considered the propagation of damage in compression of continuous fibre reinforced unidirectional composites and the effect of the overall system scale and architecture for these processes. The discussions were stimulating, and the breakout sessions focused around the challenges and how the NextCOMP strategies could tackle these mechanisms.
Dr Gustavo Quino conducts impact experiments at the University of Oxford
NextCOMP team member Gustavo visited University of Oxford in February 2022 to undertake experiments which will help us to understand the effects of dynamic loads (impact) upon the mechanical behaviour of matrix materials. During the experiments, an ultra-high-speed imaging system was used to take photos of the deforming specimen at a rate of 500000 frames per second! These photographs will provide detailed information on the strain history during the experiment, which takes place within under 500 microseconds.
NextCOMP's Cameron Woodgate visits the Henry Royce Institute to learn about state-of-the-art electrospinning
On the 25th October 2021, NextCOMP PhD researcher Cameron Woodgate went to the Henry Royce Institute in Manchester to see the new facilities & state-of-the-art electrospinning equipment used by Dr Jonny Blaker and his group. During the trip, exchange of electrospinning knowledge, processes, and experimental setups was carried out, along with practical demonstrations of the Bioinicia Fluidnatek LE-500 electrospinning equipment; and discussion of its potential to be utilised to produce novel material systems to be used with fibre reinforced composites in the NextCOMP project.
Dr Laura Rhian Pickard delivered a quickfire presentation at the virtual EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Research Hub Open Day
The event held vitually on the 19th October 2021, was attended by ~200 students, academics, and industry representatives, her talk was very well received and served to introduce NextCOMP to the wider Composites Community. The presentation showed how NextCOMP is inspired by the hierarchical structure of natural composites before focusing on pultruded rod based structures.
NextCOMP Bristol researchers create film for Bristol Composites Institute Annual Conference 2021 to be held on the 9th November 2021
The NextCOMP University of Bristol team members have created a film giving an overview of the project and some of their research. Attendees of the BCI Annual Conference 2021 will be able to discuss the research with the NextCOMP team at a dedicated interactive session during the event. It is an excellent opportunity for industry and academics to find out more about NextCOMP from our researchers.
NextCOMP features in BCI new student and staff induction talks
New students and staff of the Bristol Composites Institute learned about the NextCOMP programme grant in their induction talks in late September 2021. University of Bristol NextCOMP Principal Investigator Professor Richard Trask talked about the research areas NextCOMP focuses on and other NextCOMP team members gave presentations to the new cohort with space at the end for questions.
Initiation of Damage NextCOMP Workshop
The Initiation of Damage Workshop, took place online on the 10th September 2021, and provided a framework for the NextCOMP team to explore and discuss different ideas and concepts surrounding the initiation of damage in compression of continuous fibre reinforced unidirectional composites. Interactive breakout discussion groups focused first around N. A. Fleck's damage mode map (“Compressive Failure of Fiber Composites", in Advances in Applied Mechanics, Vol. 33, No. C, 1997, pp. 43–117) and ultimately led to discussion about research areas and mechanisms to focus on.
Professor Veronique Michaud Lecture: Composites for a More Sustainable Future... Tough, Healable, Recyclable?
The inaugural NextCOMP Annual Lecture was delivered by Professor Veronique Michaud on 8th July 2021, who is a member of the External Advisory Board for NextCOMP. She has many years of experience in composites and elevating research ideas into commercial products. The lecture was held virtually with ~70 attendees from around the world, the talk was informative and enjoyed by all with an insightful questions and answers session at the end.
NextCOMP were delighted to host two summer 2022 interns at University of Bristol with thanks to funding from the Faculty of Engineering Summer Internship Scheme
Supervised by Dr Laura Pickard, Lucas Lu worked on a project entitled Human Robot Collaboration Layup of Pultruded Rod Based Composites. In this project Lucas explored several methodologies for manufacturing the composites. Prof Nathan Lepora of Bristol Robotics Lab kindly loaned us the DOBOT MG400 which Lucas used to test his manufacturing methodologies.
Supervised by Dr Gustavo Quino, Harshul Jolly undertook a project entitled Simulation and Practical Testing of Pultruded Systems for Improved Compressive Performance; in which he learned modelling techniques, and simulated different geometric parameters in one of the experimental set ups currently being used for composite compression testing. Harshul also conducted experiments for one of the configurations in the Bristol Composite Institute lab.
It was a pleasure to host these two fantastic students, both of whom made some really interesting and useful discoveries throughout their internships, with their work having clearly highlighted next steps for future development. They told us that they really enjoyed working on their projects, which they said had enabled them to really accelerate their learning and develop lots of different skills, including, for example writing risk assessments, devising workplans, as well as in improving their presentation skills for their final presentations to the wider NextCOMP Team.
"It is a truly wonderful experience working with NextCOMP this summer. I have learned a lot!"
“I strongly believe this project has taught me a lot, and I will most certainly continue to use the lessons I have learned here throughout my career.”
NextCOMP Industry workshop
On Tuesday 7th June approx. 40 attendees from industry and academia met at the National Composites Centre (NCC) for the NextCOMP Industry workshop. This was an opportunity for NextCOMP industry partners to engage with the research team to hear about the research and to help define the future NextCOMP research activities.
Following an introduction and overview of the project by Prof Milo Shaffer, the first session focused on ‘Initiation of compression failure of Unidirectional composite materials’. Prof Richard Trask introduced and discussed the role of ‘damage maps for initiation of compression failure in composites’ followed by a further presentation (on behalf of Dr Soraia Pimenta) on ‘critical parameters for compression strength’. In the second session, Prof Emile Greenhalgh gave an insightful presentation on ‘propagation of compressive failure in multi-directional composite materials’ and the new challenges different stacking sequences present in initiating and containing manufacturing defects and operational damage when loaded in compression. After lunch, the final session focused on Industrial technology requirements, where the attendees were tasked to discuss and feedback on specific questions arising around how the new NextCOMP materials and design concepts could be applied to solve the challenges of today’s composite components.
The workshop was deemed a success by the NextCOMP team permitting the researchers to showcase their current project results and future ideas whilst also gaining first-hand experience of understanding and interacting with the UK’s leading composite industrial partners. Attendees reported that the workshop was useful and engaging, and an excellent opportunity to collectively debate the key questions and to gain knowledge. When asked what the most valuable aspect of the workshop had been, one industry attendee commented "Discussing the programme with others. Not only does this make a better programme, but I learned a lot."