University of Delaware

Founded in 1974 within the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering, the Center for Composite Materials (CCM) is an internationally recognized, interdisciplinary center of excellence for composites research and education.

During its first quarter century, CCM has developed core competencies in a number of composites science and engineering areas. These core competencies are applied to the Center’s many research programs, which are supported by a variety of funding sources, including the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the Army Research Office (ARO), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), industry (242+ companies representing materials suppliers and end users in the aerospace, automotive, civil engineering, and durable goods industries), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the State of Delaware.

Featured Technology

Tailored Universal Feedstock for Forming (TuFF)

Our TuFF material technology is the world’s strongest short fiber composite material that can form complex geometry parts. We have demonstrated high fiber volume fraction (~50-60%) material with full continuous fiber property translation and in-plane extension allowing complex geometry forming at comparable rates to traditional metal stamp forming. The composite material can stretch form up to 50% without losing material integrity allowing net-shape preforming and stamp forming of complex geometries. Other benefits include the ability to reuse short CF process waste and the ability to use low-cost feedstock from recycling or waste stream sources. Aligned TuFF material can be manufactured with thermoplastic or thermoset resins for composite forming processes and as a source for high fiber volume fraction additive filament. The alignment process is fiber agnostic and TuFF preforms have been manufactured with aerospace grade carbon fiber (IM7, T800), glass fiber, hybrid versions, and recycled carbon fiber.

In summary, the technical achievements of TuFF technology are as follows: 

  • 95% of short fibers aligned within ±5 degrees (highest recorded alignment)
  • Up to 63% fiber volume fraction demonstrated (not possible without high fiber alignment for nesting)
  • ~100% translation compared to continuous fiber properties (world’s strongest performing short fiber composite)
  • 40% bi-axial in-plane stretch demonstrated with sub minute cycle time under vacuum pressure
  • Closed loop recycling with full property retention demonstrated world’s first fully recovered high performance composite
  • Off-axis TuFF sheets produced directly of the TuFF production line without the need for splicing (enables continuous quasi-production)
  • Thin-ply formats available for higher strength performance (30 gsm and greater)
  • Fiber and polymer agnostic
  • Zero waste scalable non-toxic production process

John Tierney