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FIBRobot characterizes microscale materials

The effective development of composite materials requires in-depth understanding of the properties of raw materials and the interaction mechanisms of different materials. The FIBRobot innovation made at Tampere University of Technology provides valuable new information to developers.

Developed at Tampere University of Technology, the FIBRobot innovation utilizes microrobotics in an effort to facilitate and enhance the measurement and analysis of the properties of individual fibres. The micromechanical properties and microscopic interaction of raw materials bear great significance on the characteristics and quality of the end product, but so far, no commercial equipment has been available for analyzing these properties in high volumes. A new invention is now available for tackling this problem: the FIBRobotics project focuses on the automatic, mechanical testing of fibre materials on the level of individual fibres.

“Our aim is to achieve a better understanding of the characteristics of different materials, such as fibre-reinforced composites and products that are based on a variety of natural fibres,” Project Manager Mathias von Essen relates.

“Our approach is based on microrobotics, which enables highly reliable and repeatable measurement in high capacities. What’s more, automation helps us minimize any human errors involved,” von Essen notes.

Application potential from vehicles to wind power

The results from the FIBRobotics project can be utilized for many application purposes, such as the composite structures used in automotive and aviation industries, wind farm structures and the chemicals industry. In composites, different materials are combined with the purpose of achieving a hybrid of specific, desired properties. Oftentimes, the two main raw materials are a polymer-based matrix and a reinforcing fibre, such as glass fibre or carbon fibre. The way that raw materials react when used together has a major impact on the fatigue endurance of the composite structure, for example.

“Fatigue endurance plays a key role in such contexts as the rotor blades of wind farms, as the blades are expected to bear over a hundred million stress cycles during their operating life.

Active for another year, FIBRobotics is a Tekes-funded ‘New knowledge and business from research ideas’ project that aims at preparing the commercialization of the FIBRobot innovation.

“We are taking a trip to Paris early March as an exhibitor at the JEC World 2016 fair. JEC World is the world’s largest international gathering of composites professionals.

For further information on the project, see www.tut.fi/fibrobotics and Twitter @fibrobotics

Contact information: Project Manager Mathias von Essen, Micro and Nanosystems research group

mathias.vonessen (at) tut.fi, +358 40 849 0019

News submitted by: Sanna Kähkönen
Keywords: science and research