Work package 1 of the First time Right project focusses on the ‘state of the art’ of vacuum injection production process within the consortium companies. All companies in the consortium are involved in vacuum injection in some way. Some use it to produce a substantial part of their products. The polyester and glass fiber combination is mostly used in these companies. Other companies are involved in a specific aspect of the production process like building sensory equipment or molds.
Laura de Vries and Thomas Kok (NHL Stenden) visited most of the companies during the first months of this year. They interviewed the process engineers and experts within the companies to find out about the details of their implementation of the vacuum injection process. They were especially interested in how they come up with their injection strategies, if they regularly experience any production failures and what they expect in terms of innovation and the future of vacuum injection. The complete interviews are presented in a full report which will be available for download soon.
What could be concluded from the interviews was not in line with the statement given in the original FTR document. Speaking with the different companies indicated that making vacuum injection more profitable is not solely based on eliminating errors; research has indicated that the current market offers enough equipment and material in order to execute a vacuum injection without error. However, it is determined by the possibilities and demand of the client whether or not a company will (be able to) invest in said measures. This in turn leads to companies inventing their own techniques, equipment and procedures in order to achieve the best quality.
‘’…you can’t just rely on the information provided on data sheets; it’s important to gather your own hands on experience.”
With every company inventing their own procedures it becomes very difficult to develop a uniform standard for composite education and training. Currently every material and technique is tested separately by each company due to the lack of proper references. All companies did address the need for sharing knowledge with their friendly competitors in order to attain better solutions.
‘’Seeing is believing …’’
“It’s about closing the control loop, tackling the cause instead of the symptoms.”
Moving forward from these interviews, it was decided to test all techniques currently in use and to find out where the errors are. Identifying these errors, they will then be analyzed to see if it is possible to maintain quality while saving on time and money. All results from these tests are then cataloged to form a manual which can be used for educational purposes.
Read the full report here.