New facility for optimising the production process of composites

NLR starts ACM Pilot Plant for applied research

On 28 November 2014, the high point was reached in the construction of a remarkable new facility at NLR: a ACM Pilot Plant for composite components ready for production. This new facility was partly made possible by a grant from the Province of Flevoland, the support of the CompoWorld Foundation, and a Public Private Partnership with Fokker Landing Gear.

In autumn 2015 the Automated Composite Manufacturing (ACM) Pilot Plant opened its doors. Here the entire focus will be on the further development of automated manufacturing processes for composites, manufactured by means of resin transfer moulding (RTM) injections. An additional objective is the optimisation of the production process, in order to increase the quality and affordability of the products. Ultra-modern equipment has been purchased by NLR for this new facility, for which Fokker Landing Gear and NLR jointly devised the specifications. One example is a braiding machine for composites, which is one of the largest in Europe.

Landing gear components

The first work undertaken in the ACM Pilot Plant will involve research into automated manufacturing technologies for composite landing gear components. This will be done according to the Robot Based Composite Manufacturing’ concept, which Fokker Landing Gear and NLR jointly developed in recent years.

The ACM Pilot Plant will also allow other companies to conduct research at high Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). This is unique in the Netherlands aerospace sector and also of interest for high tech – high spec companies outside of the aerospace sector.

Michel Peters, CEO NLR: "With the start of construction on this ACM Pilot Plant, NLR, together with the government and Dutch industry have successfully established a unique collaborative partnership. In this, the three sides of the golden triangle – between government, industry and knowledge institutes – are literally 'fused' together. This provides a guarantee that now and in future Dutch industry can further enhance its competitiveness in the field of composite and production technology"

Jan-Nico Appelman, a member of the Flevoland Provincial Executive: "In the past few years the Provincial Executive has worked to develop Flevoland's innovative strength and improve its investment climate. The province is investing in application-oriented research, for instance here at the ACM Pilot Plant. You can find business parks throughout the country, but here in Flevoland companies can benefit from a unique combination of theory and practice thanks to their proximity to NLR’s activities."

ACM Pilot Plant images