COMPCUT, the specialist division designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art composite cutting and machining solutions, powered by Sharp & Tappin, has recently been commended by the University of Nottingham for providing its Composites Research Group with ultimate performance and safety in advanced composite cutting solutions.
The University purchased the COMPCUT ACS 300 in February earlier this year, to support research funded by the EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Research Hub (CIMComp) and has since seen significant improvements to several of its academic procedures.
Tom Turner, deputy director at EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Research Hub, said the benefits of the ACS 300 were immediately apparent: “The ACS 300 is ideal for providing test-ready samples easily enough that you can leave the machine operating at full efficiency without overseeing the operation. The digital interface from which we input commands is a much safer and effective method, teaching PhD students on how to cut composite test samples.”
Before approaching COMPCUT, the University used a traditional diamond blade plate saw to cut carbon epoxy material. This machine required a hands-on approach; composite sheets were manually guided through the blade, increasing the risk of injury and introducing variability to the specimens.
“As soon as we began operating the ACS 300, our time spent recalibrating new parameters was significantly reduced,” noted Turner. “Although our traditional plate saw was effective once configured properly, the quality of the finished cut left much to be desired.”
The ACS 300 is the smallest of COMPCUT’s range of advanced composite cutting solutions. It offers a 300mm x 300mm clear panel size which was ideal for CIMComp’s test specimens, providing highly consistent and accurate parallelism and perpendicularity (down to 0.03mm). The finish of cut test samples from the ACS 300 is unmatched and requires no post-processing. The quality ensures immediate use of the samples for microscopy, as well as tensile and compressive testing.
“Prior to this year, we had to manually polish our plate saw test samples as their edges were frayed,” added Turner. “The level of finish we now get from the ACS 300 has reduced the time it takes for samples to be sent to the research labs.”
Lee Harper, hub manager at EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Research Hub, said: “A student can be trained to be proficient on the machine within an hour. Typically undergraduates would not be allowed to use our old machine, due to safety concerns. The enclosed space of the ACS 300 has given more PhD students the opportunity and confidence to cut their own samples and develop their learning.”
The ACS 300 has enabled the University to reduce specimen preparation time by approximately 80%.
“As well as the enclosed space providing the ultimate safety for our students, a big advantage is that this machine is much quieter than our old machine,” noted Harper. “There is no need to wear ear defenders in its vicinity; you can easily hold a conversation next to the machine. This has greatly improved the working environment within our lab.”
Jon Small, COMPCUT head of sales, stated: “The feedback received from Lee and Tom at CIMComp has been instrumental showcasing the many benefits of the COMPCUT ACS 300. The machine has proven its worth at being a compact, highly reliable piece of equipment for producing test-ready samples for the university’s composite R&D department, as well as offering unprecedented safety and optimisation the next generation of composite engineers.”