VUT RESUSCITATES PARTNERSHIP WITH EUROPEAN DICOMI PROJECT ON DIRECTIONAL FIBRE-REINFORCED POLYMER MATERIALS
By Selina Rapulane 07 July 2022
The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) is a partner in a Directional Composites through Manufacturing Innovation (DiCOMI) project, set to be completed by February 2023.
The research will focus on Directional Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (DFRP) materials and combining different manufacturing techniques into a unique and innovative hybrid system.
Five VUT researchers have been seconded to this programme which commenced in June 2022.
Ms Yvonne Shabanga, Ms Tsholofelo Nkaiseng, and Mr Sarel Havenga who will be working on the design of the production head and machine components. Mr Ngazibini Mayila, as well as Ms Oriel Mhlongo will be working on material development and tensile testing.
This project has a direct impact on the European and international scientific fields of composite materials and manufacturing equipment while supporting the innovation potential in the automotive and aerospace industries.
Said Mr Havenga: “I’m very excited, it’s a very interesting project that will make a difference in the way that we produce additive and subtractive manufacturing. I think we’re very privileged to be part of this international team. This will put VUT on the map”.
Ms Shabanga also shared similar sentiments about the project. “This is a great opportunity, that will enable me to upskill myself to learn new things and keep up with the latest trends in Additive Manufacturing.
Mr Ngazibini mentioned that he is eager to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge. “With the skills set that I will acquire from this project, I am going to transfer it to the students as well as improve myself”, he said.
About the project
Fifteen researchers are expected to participate in the final stage of the research project. This is likely to take place between June until February 2023. The host institutions will be Loughborough University in the United Kingdom and the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca in Romania. The secondees will perform academic research from within the Loughborough design school as well as the engineering faculty of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca.
The objective of each secondment will be a staff skills-mobility exchange, where researchers will gain valuable industry and academic experience on mainly additive manufacturing platforms. However, secondees are expected to perform academic reporting, prototyping and finally to produce research outputs in the form of a journal or conference publication. All intellectual property accrued during this period will be guided by the Intellectual Property policies of partner institutions and the Consortium Agreement.
This is not the first time that VUT and the European DiCoMI project have partnered. This collaboration began in 2019, to integrate advanced manufacturing techniques, composite materials science, and manufacturing system design to develop a novel composites manufacturing system capable of producing low-cost parts with increased accuracy and enhanced functionality.
During 2019, VUT was able to successfully mobilise four staff researchers through this partnership until the project was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, DiCOMI partners have once again invited VUT to participate in the final phases of the research project.
This project is a unique opportunity for participants to evolve in different work environments, strengthen ties with the other partners, and develop further industry-academia cooperation.
Interested researchers should be on the lookout for the intake of the second cohort that will take place end of July 2022.