Bucky papers are self-supporting sheets comprised of entangled carbon nanotubes. This type of nano-structured preform enables easier generation of CNTs into selective areas of a CFRP composite and can overcome the filtering issues arising when CNT are to be introduced by liquid technologies (Liquid Resin Infusion, Resin Transfer Moulding, etc) in composite laminates.
The proposed pilot line for bucky papers will have the capability to manufacture round shaped bucky papers with controllable thickness (in the range of 50-100 micros) at a production rate of 1 bucky paper/day. The new pilot line will attempt to solve several of the recognized crucial drawbacks of the existing bucky paper manufacturing pilot lines by integrating automation and measuring methods and sensors to enable reproducibility and repeatability in the products manufactured. The development, manufacturing and validation of a multi step, semi-continuous production line integrating real time characterization methods to ensure carbon nanotube dispersion, uniform bucky paper thickness and porosity is a new challenge that will lead to customized bucky papers which attempt to meet the increasing TRL levels required from 4 to 6.
Due to the existing concerns about the damage that carbon nanotubes can cause to health, it is strongly recommended to avoid the handling of carbon nanotubes in powder form. Therefore, in the bucky paper manufacturing process to be developed by PLATFORM, carbon nanotubes predispersed in water will be the raw material, thus avoiding the use of CNT powder. Additionally, the PLATFORM manufacturing procedure will include a final step to place the bucky paper between two protective and functional layers (i.e. resin film, prepreg,…), in order to avoid direct contact of the worker with the carbon nanotubes and so to ensure safe handling of this material.