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Knowledge in Practice: The Next Step in Reducing Risk in Composites Manufacturing and Design

J. Fabris, A. Poursartip


Advanced composites is an emerging technology, rapidly growing in importance. In recent years all major aerospace OEMs have invested significantly in this technology and its utilization in non-aerospace sectors is also fast increasing. Nevertheless, the insertion of this promising technology is threatened by persistent manufacturing risk. The inability to correctly identify this risk early in program development means that composite manufacturers cope inadequately with unanticipated manufacturing challenges and late engineering design changes. Over the past 20 years attempts to reduce composites manufacturing risk have focused on three key fundamental research thrusts: process simulation, integrated computational materials engineering and informatics. Although robust enabling tools have resulted from these research efforts and are capable of contributing to the reduction of manufacturing risk, overall composites manufacturing knowledge remains relatively poor and incomplete. Many manufacturing outcomes still exist that cannot currently be predicted with models. We propose that the necessary next step in reducing composites manufacturing risk is an approach we call Knowledge in Practice. This approach aims to systematically integrate and balance the creation and application of composites manufacturing knowledge, in whatever form it may exist. In this paper, we introduce this aspects of this pragmatic approach and use a thermal management problem to demonstrate how Knowledge in Practice, in a case where the knowledge base is relatively mature, can address composites manufacturing risk efficiently and effectively.

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