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,
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.
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
Do not spend millions of euros before getting hands-on experience. Simply start with a monthly rental to get familiar with and use the system as you normally would. Perform pilot production projects within the facility and determine the benefits and value such production adds. Consider your options and get the best deal.
Get started in a few months with a plug-n-produce system on your shop floor, Do not wait for years to get started,
4. Faster lay-up rates with parallel processing flexibility
As the production demand grows, it is easy to implement parallel production units as and when needed
Multi-stage part production with hybrid materials, as the AFP-XS can be modified to suit your specific needs, enabling the use of different materials in the same part
5. Fewer stoppages and changeovers with modular changeable heads
Never stop production as the spare heads come at a minimal cost to enable continuous production with parallel maintenance
6. Increased material yield and get mold-less production
Sustainable material usage with minimal wastage of material through the accurate placement of fiber, place only at the location that needs it most
Produce 3D-printed FDM part to get the shaped core to perform layup, create mold less fiber placement
7. Cost savings and market expansion
With the existing know-how, you would be able to produce more value for your customers
Save on labor and material costs while improving working conditions
8. Automation and smart design
Fiber-reinforced composite layups can benefit from immense structural integrity while also being very lightweight
Smart automated fiber placement and orientation processes can minimize the production cost of such highly sought-after composites