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Automated Fiber Placement  -  Fast, Economical, and Quality Composite Layups

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Today, fiber-reinforced composites are frequently used materials for structural applications in various industries e.g. marine, automotive, aerospace to sports. These composites are applied in two key ways to the production of advanced structures,
  1. The purest form, i.e. the combination of multiple layers of material in individualized orientations, can produce components with the highest material characteristics, outperforming high-quality steel, at a significantly decreased weight.

  2. The combined form, i.e. adding the fiber-reinforced layers on top of an additively manufactured part to strengthen a specific section of the structure. These digitally manufacture parts that are (a) lighter, (b) stronger, (c) produced with much higher speeds, (d) greater material savings, and (e) does not require a mold.

While producing such composite parts, there are several placement methods available. Among them, Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) is one of the most efficient and economic methods in the industry today.

AFP is a unique process where individual tapes, called tows, are pulled off spools and fed through a delivery system into a fiber placement head. These bands of tows, called a course, follow programmed fiber paths and is placed directly on to a mold or work surface to create a preform. The individual layers of the preforms experience in-situ consolidation (i.e. consolidated on the fly), whilst a number of heating systems (infrared, laser, flash lamps) are used to tack one layer to the other.

Benefits of the latest advancements in AFP

With the latest innovation in a compact automated fiber placement system from Addcomposites, it is now possible to achieve:

1. Reliable layup on medium-sized complex geometries

  • Automation eliminates human placement errors

  • The compact tool increases versatility to reach the more complex areas compared to bigger AFP machines

2. Highly adaptable to meet research, development, and manufacturing requirements

  • Use an existing robot to get your research work automated, that can be scaled and implemented on the production floor

  • Experiment with different materials, process parameters, and layup strategies (fiber steering, patch placement, etc.) to optimize the product before scaling to the production floor

3. Shorter production/project lead times