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Can It Be Made with AFP? A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Automated Fiber Placement

AFP Process and Its Steps

Introduction to AFP (Read more)

Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) is a computer-aided manufacturing process used for the fabrication of continuous fiber composites. It involves laying down strips of continuous fiber prepreg tapes on a tool, typically by a robot arm equipped with a fiber placement head. The tape is heated at the nip point, pressed onto the substrate, and then cut into specified lengths.

Programming and Operating AFP Systems: (Read more)

To operate AFP systems, operators need knowledge of composites processing and CNC machine operation. The process involves:

  1. Planning and simulating the part production using software such as AddPath.

  2. Generating NC code from the simulated part.

  3. Setting up the AFP tool by loading the material.

  4. Starting the layup at a slower speed to ensure smooth operation.

  5. Gradually increasing the speed to 100%.

  6. Checking production data for anomalies.

Process Constraints

  • Limitations of Conventional Techniques: Automated fiber placement techniques can be distinguished by the status of the fiber. Both techniques use in-plane bending deformation of the tow element to achieve a curved tow path. This can lead to local defects, and it's recommended to maintain a minimum curvature of the tow path to reduce these defects.

  • Tape Placement: The AFP machine uses pre-impregnated tow tape. This method has disadvantages like mismatch between designed and real fiber paths, non-uniformity of fiber orientation, and thickness distribution.

  • Dry Tow Placement: This method uses dry tow, which is easier to bend. However, it introduces different types of process-induced defects. Dry tow doesn't have tackiness, so it requires a proper fixing method, like an embroidery technique.

  • Process-Induced Defects: In addition to local fiber buckling, defects caused by the process characteristics of each tow placement method exist. These include tow drop, overlap, and unwanted geodesic tow paths.

Can It Be Made by AFP?

Criteria for AFP Suitability: Given the constraints and process details, components ideal for AFP should have:

  • Smooth or not too complex surfaces.

  • Thin shell-like structure shapes.

  • Lightweight and high strength to justify the cost.

Real-World Applications of AFP: Automated Fiber Placement systems are utilized in various industries, including:

  • Aerospace: Manufacturing aircraft components like wing spars, fuselage panels, and bulkheads.

  • Automotive: Producing composite parts such as body panels, drivetrain components, and suspension parts.

  • Construction: Creating composite materials for bridge decks, beams, and columns.

  • Wind Energy: Fabricating composite wind turbine blades.

  • Sporting Goods: Crafting composite materials for golf clubs, tennis racquets, and skis.

  • Marine: Constructing composite materials for boat and ship hulls.

  • Medical: Developing composite materials for medical devices, including implantable devices and prosthetics.

  • Consumer Products: Manufacturing composite materials for electronics and appliances.


Understanding the intricacies of the AFP process is crucial for its successful application. While it offers numerous benefits, it's essential to be aware of its constraints. By considering the specific requirements of a project and consulting with experts, one can harness the full potential of AFP for high-quality composite parts.

What's Next!

Discover the future of composite manufacturing with Addcomposites! Here's how you can get involved:

  1. Stay Informed: Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest updates, news, and developments in AFP systems and services. Knowledge is power, and by staying informed, you'll always have the upper hand. Subscribe Now

  2. Experience Our Technology: Try our cutting-edge simulation software for a firsthand experience of the versatility and capability of our AFP systems. You'll see how our technology can transform your production line. Try Simulation

  3. Join the Collaboration: Engage with us and other technical centers across various industries. By joining this collaborative platform, you'll get to share ideas, innovate, and influence the future of AFP. Join Collaboration

  4. Get Hands-On: Avail our educational rentals for university projects or semester-long programs. Experience how our AFP systems bring about a revolution in composite manufacturing and leverage this opportunity for academic and research pursuits. Request for Educational Rental

  5. Take the Next Step: Request a quotation for our AFP systems. Whether you're interested in the AFP-XS, AFP-X, or SCF3D, we are committed to offering cost-effective solutions tailored to your needs. Take the plunge and prepare your production line for the next generation of composite manufacturing. Request Quotation

At Addcomposites, we are dedicated to revolutionizing composite manufacturing. Our AFP systems and comprehensive support services are waiting for you to harness. So, don't wait – get started on your journey to the future of manufacturing today!


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