Using humm3® technology for aerospace materials research

Interview with the McNair Aerospace Centre

About the McNair Aerospace Centre

The University of South Carolina's McNair Centre is a university centre focused on aerospace-related education, research, K-12 STEM support, workforce development, and industry engagement. The McNair Centre research team includes over 30 faculty from mechanical, chemical, civil and electrical engineering. Named in honour of scientist and explorer Ronald E. McNair, a South Carolina native, the McNair Centre was established in 2011 through generous endowments from Darla Moore and Anita Zucker and has been further enhanced with support from alumna Marva Smalls. A dedicated team of professionals now guides our research, education and partnership efforts.

How did you hear about humm3®, and what convinced you to get a system?

Heraeus reached out to the University with the offer of a technical partnership. Through that partnership we received one of the first humm3® (6kW) prototype systems to test with dry carbon fibre and carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastics. After finding success with the initial system the conversation to acquire a more powerful more streamlined version of the humm3® began. Today we are working with the 9kW version of the humm3®. With the increased power we have been able to successfully process many thermoplastic carbon and glass reinforced materials.

How has working with humm3® benefited your work?

Humm3 installed at McNAIR Aerospace Center

The humm3® system has allowed us to continue researching high temperature thermoplastic materials. humm3® has helped to solve thermoplastic AFP material processing, in both the ability to reach temperature for laydown and tack of material, increase deposition rate, safety, and ease of process parameter development for layup.

The ability to safely operate automated fibre placement and humm3® systems from the original operations console has allowed us to continue teaching undergraduate and graduate students in a very hands-on manner as well aiding in research activities.

What future developments and initiatives are planned for your humm3®?

We hope to start working with newer high temperature materials such as ceramic matrix composites and carbon-carbon composites. Partnering with Heraeus and material suppliers we hope to be the first ones to attempt to manufacture as many cutting-edge composite materials as possible.

Interview contributions

Brandon Seay
Associate Engineer - Automated Fiber Placement programmer/operator, composite curing equipment coordinator, and main composite manufacturing process developer.

Jessie Pandher
Researcher - Specialties in thermoplastic composites, induction welding, composite structures testing and characterizing, and high temperature thermoplastic processing