Witnessing the entire process of digitized composite layup usually requires you to travel and visit the facility where the AFP/ATL systems are running. This blog post walks you through a virtual demo video experience; showing you how to program and operate the AFP-XS for your products or shapes. Let's get started!
Object to Lay
For the very first demo, we are starting with a really basic rectangular shape. The rectangle base laminate is 400 x 450 mm in size with a central patch laminate of 100 x 150 mm.
The base laminate has the fiber orientation of [0°/90°/+45/-45]
The central patch laminate has an orientation of [+45/-45].
The total 6 layer laminate has to be laid without any overlaps in the fiber and the maximum gap allowed was 1 mm.
Off-Line Programming: ADDpath
The ADDpath software is a plug-in on top of the commonly used CAD modeling platform Rhino. The key feature of creating the planning software with this approach provides:
Accessibility: The ADDpath was built with the goal of accessibility and customization in mind. The open platform allows for different material uses, layup techniques, fiber paths, and mold shapes to be used.
Fast setup: ADDpath requires minimal installation time, and since most universities/R&D centers/technical clusters have existing Rhino subscriptions, there is no additional learning curve or infrastructure investments.
Freedom: The Rhino ecosystem allows for visual programming elements, that can be implemented on top of the ADDpath generated programs.
The programming process is quite intuitive in its nature, and following these simple steps will ensure success.
Import the CAD file in .stp format to ADDpath.
Start with adding the lay-up sequence [0°/90°/+45/-45] for the base layer
Check for the Layup and Speed parameters
Click on "Add Layup" and select the base surface. Now you can see Layup 1 appears in the layup window.
Enter the layup sequence for the central patch laminate [+45/-45].
Click on "Add Layup" and select the central patch surface. Now you can see Layup 2 appears in the layup window.
To finalize the layup, click on "Plan Layup". This brings up the material needed for the layup and the time estimate to do the layup.
Now we can visualize the planned layup, through the layup tree. Here you have the option to suppress individual passes, visualize individual layers, and more.
Now we move onto the Simulation stage, where we see the robot (requiring only an initial upload, then is available each time thereafter) appears and simulates the layup of each pass. Presently the robot will turn pink if it is hitting any soft limits, and red if it hits a hardware limit. The upcoming version will have collision detection between the AFP-XS and mold as well.
During the Visualization you can slide through the frames of robot motion to ensure smooth operation in virtual environment. This helps in optimizing the operations and accident avoidance during actual operation. Alternatively, you can hit "Play" to see a full animation of your layup.
Once satisfied with your simulation and layup, click "Generate Robot Program". This will create code in the specified robotic language. This is currently available for KUKA, for which you can use the OrangeEdit application to visualize the generated program. Save the generated program to your USB drive, and then transfer it to the KUKA control box.
Setting up the tool
Setting up the tool is pretty easy with AFP-XS. Follow these simple steps:
Connect the AFP-XS to the end of the robotic arm using a Schunk quick change connector.
Connect the ADDcontroller to the KUKA KRC4 control box through an ethernet cable.
Power up the KUKA robot. This will automatically power up the ADDcontroller as they are now connected.
After you've transferred the USB drive with the generated program to the KUKA control box, upload the program using the KUKA teach pendant. .
Assuming you already input the correct parameters (TCP, base, and ADDfirmware) the tool is ready to go. Enjoy the accessible and agile automation from AFP-XS!