: Fiber Placement equipment has historically been very large and very expensive. Therefore, the AFP process has been mostly exclusive to the larger aerospace companies of the world. In order to achieve more widespread use of the AFP process, a wider variety of machine configurations must be offered and cost of the equipment must be decreased. Commercially available, articulated robotic arms have been identified as an attractive, low cost option for AFP machine platforms. However, incorporating AFP material delivery technology with robotic arms has many challenges. These challenges relate to both hardware and software issues. This presentation will address the technical challenges of using robots as a machine platform for the AFP process and review the current status of this composites lamination equipment technology. Presenter Frederic Challois, Coriolis Composites
Electroimpact Automatic Fiber Placement (AFP) machines lay-up composite parts by accurately placing carbon fiber tow (strips of impregnated carbon fiber) on a mould. In order to achieve high accuracy at high speeds, the processes of feeding and cutting tows must be tuned. Historically, the tuning has been a time-consuming, manual process. This paper will present a methodology to replace manual measurements with an automated laser, improve measurement speed by an order of magnitude, improve accuracy from +/? 0.020? (manual) to +/? 0.015? (laser), and eliminate human error. Presenter Joshua Cemenska, Electroimpact Inc.
Using Programming and Simulation to Develop Optimized Processes for Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) CNC Machines
Many manufacturing companies want to apply AFP technology to complex high-curvature part shapes. As new AFP machine technologies are developed to specifically apply material over complex shapes, new and innovative NC programming approaches are needed to successfully, reliably, and accurately apply material with good consolidation, while meeting the fiber direction and coverage requirements. A big issue with AFP is the production rate vs. part complexity. Most complex shapes can be created with a single .125? wide strip (tow) of material. But the production time would be impractically long. So machine builders create 6, 8, 16, even 32 tow AFP heads, and use the widest tow possible for the highest laydown rates. But then wide compaction rollers on these systems have difficulty consolidating material over curved surfaces, and the minimum steering radius of wider tows challenge the software?s ability to meet the layup requirements.