New center focuses on innovation using advanced composites

R. Byron Pipes, the John L. Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Purdue University, has given a lot of thought to innovation and how new products will be manufactured from high-performance advanced composites in years to come.

“Innovation is important to us all, and the language of innovation in the future will be simulation,” said Pipes, who’s been at the leading edge of materials science worldwide for decades. “The knowledge base we’ve created currently resides in books, magazines and academic papers. Eventually it will reside in simulation tools. This is where the future is going.”

No two organizations are more committed to accelerating that digital transformation than Purdue and Dassault Systèmes, whose seven-year strategic partnership enters a new phase today with the inauguration of the 3DEXPERIENCE Education Center of Excellence in Advanced Composites. Both partners expect their new level of engagement will bring the advantages of the digital age to society.

“Together, we will advance the digital enterprise by developing the human talent essential to this new paradigm and by utilizing the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to exercise digital twins of complex-composites manufacturing and performance to demonstrate the power to predict phenomena that are understood today only by empirical experiences,” Pipes said.

Dassault Systèmes, whose 3DEXPERIENCE platform integrates industry-standard modeling and simulation software, and Purdue, with its world-class expertise in advanced composites and composites simulation, will collaborate to introduce these concepts to a wide range of industries within the advanced composites community, including original equipment manufacturers and lower-tier suppliers.

The philosophy of the 3DEXPERIENCE Education Center of Excellence is to create a learning environment at multiple levels – from advanced research in manufacturing and performance of advanced composites to the engagement at all levels of students needed to build the workforce of the future for Industry 4.0.

The Dassault Systèmes center is co-located in the Indiana Manufacturing Institute in the Purdue Research Park, where a professional staff of engineers is engaged in solving customer problems with the help of Dassault Systèmes products, including the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Hexcel, a leading producer of carbon-fiber reinforcements and resin systems, brought the center one of its first research challenges: developing a new thermoplastic composite that could help Hexcel expand into the market for Urban Air Mobility and Unmanned Aerial Systems, along with servicing existing commercial and defense aerospace platforms. The company aims to create a digital data set for its new composite, developing and documenting all of the information needed to design a structure using Hexcel materials, and then to analyze the structure virtually.

“Being able to pre-qualify data for our new material system is critical to helping us move into new markets and expand in existing ones,” said Bob Yancey, Hexcel’s business development director. “By giving designers the ability to virtually try out new materials, material forms and manufacturing processes, we believe we can accelerate the innovation of new systems.”

Thermoplastics comprises only a small percentage of the current composites market, so it offers tremendous market potential. “We want to be able to provide any customer who wants to use our new thermoplastic composites with digital data sets that allow them to virtually design the structure and develop the manufacturing process with confidence.”

Boeing first introduced Dassault Systèmes to Purdue’s expertise in advanced composites back in 2013. John Tracy, who at the time was Boeing’s chief technology officer, forwarded information on the Boeing-sponsored Composites Design and Manufacturing Hub (cdmHUB) being developed at Purdue, to Dassault Systèmes CEO Bernard Charlès.

Rani Richardson, a CATIA sales executive and Dassault Systèmes’ resident expert on composites, worked closely with Purdue’s composites-simulation experts, including Pipes. She championed the company’s sponsorship of the cdmHUB and participated in its early development.

In 2015, Dassault Systemès joined Purdue and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a research facility funded by the US government, in the successful competition for the national Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). IACMI, sponsored by the US Department of Energy, was funded for a total of US$200 million over five years. The institute spanned three states that historically were home to US automotive manufacturing (Michigan, Ohio and Indiana) and two states in the emerging manufacturing region (Tennessee and Colorado).

Dassault Systèmes’ participation in IACMI supported the Design Modeling and Simulation Technology Area, which is hosted by the Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center (CMSC) of the College of Engineering and the Purdue Polytechnic.

Since 2015, Dassault Systemès software has been used at the CMSC to study composites manufacturing and performance in industry-sponsored projects. Altogether, more than 160 industrial sponsors have collaborated to advance the technology, helping to reduce the weight of motor vehicles in the United States and enhance alternate energy systems through the use of advanced composites.

“The relationship between Purdue University and Dassault Systèmes has united two pioneers in the science of composites,” Richardson said. “With the formal opening of the new 3DEXPERIENCE Education Center of Excellence in Advanced Composites, and the support of our invaluable sponsors, we are excited about continuing to advance the field for industry and students today and for generations to come.”




Tony Velocci

Tony Velocci is former Editor-in-Chief of Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and Editorial Director, Aviation Week Group. He launched his Aviation Week career in 1989, first as senior business editor, and later became Northeast Bureau Chief, based in New York City. He was appointed chief editor in 2003 and retired from The McGraw-Hill Companies, Aviation Week’s parent company, at the end of 2012. He remains deeply engaged in the aerospace industry as a speaker, a consultant and writing for various publications. While at Aviation Week Velocci received various awards, including the distinguished McGraw-Hill Corporate Achievement Award for Editorial Excellence and the Royal Aeronautical Society's Aerospace Journalist of the Year award in multiple categories (2006 and 2002). As bureau chief and later chief editor, he led or co-chaired various international forums on innovation and competitiveness, Industry 4.0, cross-border collaboration, and co-chaired annual aerospace executive summits on critical challenges facing the industry. Velocci is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Aeronautic Association and a member of the Industry Advisory Board of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.