Hardware

  • What are the overall dimensions and weight of the AFP-XS?​​​​​

    • ​The AFP-XS has bounding dimensions of 400mm x 430mm x 190mm and has a dry weight of 6.5kg (14.5 lbs). We recommend using a spool with an OD of 230mm, which brings the overall weight up to just under 10kg (22 lbs).

  • What is the heating method in AFP-XS?

    • Hot air and/or IR lamps. For high temperature thermoplastics, we will work with you to incorporate mounting holes to install a mounting bracket applicable for your desired heater type (laser, humm3, etc.). Along with this, we will also fabricate the AFP-XS with a compaction roller that can be actively cooled during operation.

  • What is the min/max compression force exerted by the compaction roller?

    • 0-350N. There is a linear actuator, controlled via pneumatic valve, so the pressure can be adjusted as necessary.

  • Is there active tension control in the AFP tool? Or is it passive looping around pulleys?

    • Tension is actively controlled by a brake at the spool, which can be adjusted as necessary.

  • What are the minimum radii we can achieve?

    • AFP-XS can confidently and repeatedly layup a minimum radius of 30mm. The tool has a clearance angle of 15˚, which means that if the radius results in any angle greater than 15˚, there will be a collision. We are in the process of increasing it to 20˚ on future versions of the toolhead.

  • What is the speed of layup the toolheads can layup accurately?

    • Dry tape (with thermoplastic binder) can have a deposition rate of up to 500mm/sec, with stapling at each end of the tape. This dry tape can have a deposition rate of up to 250mm/sec with constant stapling along the length of tape. Prepregs will also have a deposition rate of 250mm/sec, as it needs to be heated the entire length of the pass in order to ensure it sticks to the mold surface. Thermoplastics (without in-situ consolidation) will have a deposition rate of 20mm/sec. A further thermoforming process will need to take place to get your desired final part. The actual speeds will depend on the resin matrix, weight of the material, shape of the mold, and the heaters’ capability. 

  • Can AFP-XS cut on the fly, and with angled cuts?

    • Currently, the AFP-XS pauses briefly (30 ms) to make the cut. This ensures no fraying of the fibers and keeps the accuracy of the cut end placement. In the future, it will be optimized to enable cutting on the fly, however, it will still need to slow down, but not completely pause. No, we don’t perform angled cuts. Each fiber has to be cut perpendicularly to the fiber orientation. This doesn’t affect much on the EOP, but could matter for internal reinforcements at the 45/-45˚ angles. This is an important consideration to take into account for design purposes.

  • What tape weight can AFP-XS handle?

    • AFP-XS can handle dry tapes with a weight of 80 GSM to 300 GSM. When handling thermoset prepregs, the applicable weights are 150 GSM to 400 GSM. For thermoplastic tapes, the applicable weights are 100 GSM to 150 GSM.

  • What is the range of tape widths our toolheads can handle?

    • AFP-XS can handle tows and spread tow tapes with widths from 5mm up to 25mm (5mm increments) and from ¼” up to 1” (¼” increments). The widths can be accounted for by replacing the standard chute with the one designed for your desired width. There are plans in place to create a larger toolhead that can handle 25mm to 50mm, and 1” to 2”, wide spread tow tapes.

  • What are some of the material limitations?

    • Currently we are working exclusively with carbon fiber unidirectional tape. We have accurately performed layup with a glass and thermoplastic tape on a special request. As glass and natural fibers become more in demand, our technology can be adapted to accept those as raw material inputs.

  • What are the in-plane/out-of-plane fiber orientation our toolheads can apply tapes?

    • Our toolheads are able to achieve a fiber direction of anywhere between 0˚-90˚, with 6 degrees of freedom. We are limited by the reach of the robotic arm and its maneuverability, within reason.

  • What robot do I need in order to use this?

    • The AFP-XS is currently capable of plug and play in any KUKA that uses a KR C4 controller. This is necessary due to our method of using EtherCAT in order to control the communication between the AFP-XS and KUKA. The size of the KUKA is up to you, but the minimum payload needs to be 10 kg or above.

  • Does it have to be a KUKA robot?

    • At the moment, yes. We have been in contact with both Universal Robots and ABB Robotics discussing the opportunity to develop this tool for their platforms. Discussions are progressing, but we are focused on optimizing this for KUKA before expanding to other platforms. Estimated date of availability is end of 2020.

 
 

Software

  • What is the software?

    • The ADDpath software was developed in-house as a plug-in for Rhino 3D, version 6 or later. Rhino is an affordable, user friendly CAD software available at a discounted price for universities and research centers via the Rhino website. It offers very visual components and intuitive programming with developer community and accessible pricing, as opposed to other plug-ins running off of CATIA. It is also easily integrated with Grasshopper, which enables you, the end user, to build new basic logic on top of our platform for your experiments. If you require something more in-depth, we would be happy to discuss this with you and provide you the updated functionality at no extra cost! The software will output code in a format that is readable by the selected robot.

  • Is ADDpath universal for all robotic arms?

    • Everything from the logic standpoint remains the same between robots, but each brand has its own robotic language. We need to gain access to each additional brand of robot in order to effectively develop the software correctly.

  • Does ADDpath support other modeling software than Rhino, such as CATIA?

    • No. This goes against our values of providing accessible automation, since CATIA is used primarily in high cash flow industries. A lifetime license of Rhino is available for about €1,000; universities would receive a further discount directly from Rhino themselves.

  • Just how easy is it to program?

    • The programming process can be broken down into 6 simple steps:

      • Select the surface you want to layup on

      • Dictate the number of layers by entering the fiber orientation for each layer, hitting enter after each entry.

      • Make sure the parameters are correct for your material (some more common ones will be pre-programmed). Make adjustments as necessary

      • Select “Plan Layup”. This will show you the amount of material used for the layup, time it will take to perform the layup, and estimated waste created once the post processing is complete. Hit “OK”. This will generate a visualization of the layup, giving you the option to suppress certain passes to achieve selective reinforcement. 

      • The program generates a robot based upon your inputs and produces a simulation with collision detection. 

      • Once satisfied, save the file to a USB and transfer that to the KUKA control box. You are now ready to perform the layup on your robot by selecting the program from the KUKA pendant.

 

Check out this blogpost for a more in-depth overview.

  • Is there an active feedback loop?

    • Not yet. Each component is analogously monitored, but only provides real time information. There are plans in place to digitize readouts, and then record the data in a database. These will be available on future systems.

 

Financial

  • What is your rental program?

    • The ADDresearch rental program is available to anyone performing research at their facility, such as universities, technical centers, etc. Under the program, the tool is available for rent on a monthly basis, with a minimum of four (4) months. The monthly price correlates with the length of desired rental, ranging from €1,999 to €2,750 per month. Once the order is initially placed, the first invoice will include the first months rent plus a one-time down payment of €1,000, and the security deposit. The down payment covers the installation and training costs associated with implementation. Additional discounts apply while supplies last. Contact us for these details.

  • Is a security deposit required?

    • Yes. A security deposit of €2,500 is required, and will be included in the initial invoice. This will be a temporary hold until completion of your project and return of the equipment in good condition, excluding the normal wear and tear. 

  • So you have the rental program, but can I still purchase the system?

    • Of course! You do not have to participate in the rental program if you would rather have the system permanently right away.

  • If I’m not sure I want to purchase immediately, can I begin with the rental program and decide whether or not to purchase later?

    • Absolutely! The purpose of the rental program for SMEs is to reduce your risk of investment, as this could be new technology that you are planning to implement. As a university or technical/research center, the purpose of the rental program is either for short term projects or to provide SMEs the opportunity to collaborate, when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. If you decide, at any point, you want to purchase the system permanently just let us know! We will reduce the overall purchase price by 80% of what you already paid into it and the full security deposit. Let’s say you decided to start with the 4 month rental, and you want to purchase it after 3 months. At this point, you would have paid 3 months worth (€8,250) plus the security deposit (€2,500) out of the €60,000 purchase price. The remaining amount to pay in order to purchase the system is €60,000-(0.8*€8,250)-€2,500; and the remaining balance would be €50,900. 

  • What kind of warranty do you offer?

    • As long as the rental program is active, all replacement consumables (outside of material) are included. This means that as your cutters start to wear down, let us know and we will provide you with a new replacement, which can easily be done in 10 minutes by removing the 2 bolts, removing the cutter system, and installing the new one in the same fashion. Return the worn out systems to us, and carry on your way. The same goes for compaction rollers. For software support, any update we realize will be pushed out to you automatically. If there is a feature you want added, let us know and we will work with you incorporating it, then push it out to you as soon as it’s ready for your use. Online support is available during office hours. If a visit is needed, we will have to schedule it separately, and any replacement parts will be purchased by you. 

    • Upon purchasing the system, we offer the same world class support for two years (hardware) and three years (software). Once those time periods are up, you can opt to continue the support with an annual maintenance contract. Option to cancel once the annual period comes to a close.

  • What is the ballpark cost of this toolhead/software/set-up package?

    •  The AFP tool package will cost €60,000 per toolhead. As a comparison, current technology on the market costs about €1m. Bulk orders can be given at a discount per toolhead, and payment plans are flexible. This price includes the warranties discussed above including the initial install and calibration. As discussed above, there is the option to rent if you are unsure this is a route you want to take.

We hope these FAQ's provided some clarification for you, but if not, we are here to help! Shoot us a message if there is something you would like more clarification on, or to discuss something we may have missed!