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Robotic Applications in Composite Fiber Layup and processing


Fiber material (often referred to as 'tow') can present moderate handling ... Improved capacity to fabricate much larger single piece composite lay-ups. Examples: ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Robotic Applications in Composite Fiber Layup and processing

Robotic Applications in Composite Fiber Lay-up
and processing
  • Karl Taylor
  • 4/25/2007

Composite fiber manufacture can be troublesome
for several reasons
  • Solvents used in thermoplastic and thermo-set
    resins for composite fiber lay-ups are often
    teratogenic (causing birth defects),
    carcinogenic, and may cause hormonal problems
  • Fiber material (often referred to as tow) can
    present moderate handling hazards to skin and
  • Fiber material can easily be damaged or become
    fouled in its orientation during lay-up due to
    handling error

Composite Fiber additionally requires specialized
  • Pre-impregnated fiber/resin cloth (pre-preg
    material) must be carefully monitored for
    duration of time at room temperature, as material
    properties degrade with time out of freezer due
    to warm curing
  • In cases where resin is applied to fiber
    in-process, resin has limited life span due to
    same reasons as above

Manufacturing associated costs contribute from
40 to over 60 of total costs for producing
fiber composite products.
Industrial Robotic technology could reduce this
cost by over half through
  • Reduced required facility floor space for lay-up
  • Improved control of material handling
  • Reduced labor requirements/costs
  • Faster Process time
  • Reduced scrap due to human processing error

Additionally, Robotics promises these additional
  • Reduced exposure of human labor element to toxic
    solvents, and handling hazards or fiber tow
    material used in fiber composite manufacture
  • Reduced cost for more sophisticated/higher
    performance composites

Robotic application benefits (cont.)
  • Improved capacity to fabricate much larger single
    piece composite lay-ups
  • Examples
  • -Single piece fiber composite aircraft fuselage
    lay- ups
  • -Moderate sized marine hull single piece
    composite lay-up
  • Processing any large single piece lay-up that was
    previously too costly, difficult or impossible to
    manufacture by hand

Right CAD representation of automated composite
assembly/lay-up using a combination six-axis
arm/3-axis gantry system (source
Robotics Applications (cont.)
Above, left Proprietary Precision Feed
Endeffector (PFE), provides pressure mandrels,
orientation, excess resin recycling, and shearing
capabilities Above, right PFE applying pre-preg
material to a concave mold Right Detail of
optional refrigerator capabilities for preserving
composite material for extended duration
lay-ups Source Composite Systems, Inc.
Robotics Applications (cont.)
Above, left A three-axis gantry system with a
mounted Kuka six-axis arm for performing large
single part composite assembly Above, right
Detail of six-axis arm mounted on telescoping
vertical axis, may be used in conjunction with a
PFE TCF Source Composite Systems, Inc.
Robotics Applications (cont.)
Above, left tandem arms working in parallel on a
single gantry system to assemble mirrored parts
(i.e. a pair of composite wings) Above, right
single gantry system allowing lay-up within the
cylinder, as would occur for ID assmbly of a
fuselage Right Similar to above, with OD
single-piece assembly Source Composite Systems,
Inc. (http//
Robotics Applications Summary
  • Multi-axis gantry system conveyors (for
    especially large parts) enable manufacture of
    parts previously impossible, or infeasible
  • Specialized TCF modules that handle fiber
    orientation, mandrel application force, recycling
    excess resin, and temperature control of
    composite material can do the work of dozens of
    laborers more efficiently than traditional
  • Robotics greatest advantage over traditional
    automation of composite lay-up is in flexibility
    of configuration and adaptability to several
    assembly operations

(Source http//