Composite innovation: Centrale Nantes wins the SAMPE competition

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Three student-engineers from the Ecole Centrale de Nantes won the 5th edition of the SAMPE Composite Bridge Competition, named after the association that promotes composite materials and innovative processes for industry.

Vianney Copleutre, Nicolas Dany and Guillaume Vincent, supervised by their professors Jean-Michel Lebrun and Sébastien Comas-Cardona from the MPTC (Materials, Processes and Composite Technology) team of the Institute for Research in Civil and Mechanical Engineering (GeM), won the trophy on November 21, 2013.

The test of the 2013 national competition between universities and engineering schools consisted of designing and manufacturing a composite material bridge from a real set of specifications, as well as building a model of this bridge from a material kit supplied.

Ten schools were in the running this year: ISAE Toulouse, IUT Saint Nazaire, Ecole des Mines de Douai, ENSAIT Roubaix, PolyTech Nantes, IUT Bordeaux, ENSMA Poitiers, PolyTech Orléans, ESTIA Bayonne and Centrale Nantes.

The destructive test on the 270g model designed by the central team showed a resistance equivalent to a weight of 1.55 tons, which allowed it to stand out. The achievement won over the jury: technical performance, quality, meticulous finishing and original design. The jury also highlighted the team's ability to justify its technical choices and overall performance as the students competed for the first time. The previous record was held by Paul Sabatier University.

The association SAMP (Society for Advancement of Material Process Engineering) is an international association of professionals with 5,000 members in the United States, almost 1,000 in Europe (about 250 in France) and 300 in Japan. It promotes advanced materials, especially composites, and innovative processes for all industries: aeronautics, automotive, nautical, energy, etc...

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From the prototype to the development of the final model

Following an analysis of existing bridge structures, several architectures were modelled and compared in order to obtain the best mechanical performance for a low mass. Particular attention was paid to the development of a structure that is both original in the competition and possible to manufacture with the materials provided on the composite processing equipment of the MPTC team of the GeM laboratory. A lattice structure proved to be efficient and was optimized at length before the manufacturing phase. The latter consisted in making composite material plates and then assembling them by gluing.

About Ecole Centrale de Nantes

École Centrale de Nantes is a member of the Groupe des Écoles Centrales (Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes and Paris) and trains Centraliens engineers for the company. Founded in 1919, École Centrale de Nantes has on its 16-hectare 2050-student campus, 1340 of whom are engineering students, 200 engineering students in continuing education and apprenticeship (ITII), 240 doctoral students and 270 Masters students. Centrale Nantes trains engineers, masters graduates and PhDs in the latest developments in science and technology and introduces them to best management practices. For more information: www.ec-nantes.fr

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