Reducing the environmental impact of composites
REFORM (Resource-Efficient Factory Of Recyclable Manufacturing composite components) is a 4
year project funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Factory of the Future
Program to develop the next generation of production technologies. We will
develop clean and resource-efficient technologies for the manufacture
and disposal of composite material, focussing on all the different production stages.
Composites are becoming very popular as they allow component
weight to be reduced without affecting part strength. In many applications,
such weight reductions lead to energy savings during the service-life of the
product - there is an oft-quoted statistic that every kilogram of weight saved in the manufacture of a plane reduces emissions by 1 tonne of CO₂ per year. When calculating the environmental footprint of a component, it is important to investigate the entire life-cycle, including material extraction,manufacture, end-of-life disposal and whether or not the composite material can be recycled. This ensures that gains made in one area do not cause waste and inefficiency elsewhere.
Within REFORM, methods for forming, machining (cutting and trimming), assembly and recycling will be investigated and advances demonstrated through a range of case-studies. By using the technologies developed in REFORM, companies will be able to reduce lead-times and manufacturing times, reduce energy-use and the amount of scrap produced and meet end-of-life and recycling directives. REFORM is also developing tools which will allow companies to assess the cost and environmental impact of implementing new technologies. The project will allow green,
economically viable production techniques to be integrated into the composites eco-factory
of the future.