Large Format 3D Printing Reduces Cost in Aerospace Tooling
The world of composite manufacturing is undergoing a revolutionary transformation with the advent of additive manufacturing technologies. Two recent advancements in this field have caught the attention of industry experts: 3D printed carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) tools for serial production of composite landing flaps and the integration of composite tape laying and large-scale thermoplastic 3D printing in a single printhead. These developments hold immense promise for the aerospace and other industries that heavily rely on high-performance composite materials. In this article, we will explore the potential and implications of these breakthroughs and their impact on the future of composite manufacturing.
Traditionally, the production of such tools involved time-consuming and costly processes. However, with the introduction of 3D printed CFRP tools, manufacturers can now significantly reduce lead times and costs while maintaining the required performance characteristics. With the ability to 3D print complex geometries, manufacturers can now create intricate tool designs that were previously unachievable using traditional methods.
With more than 30 years of experience, Mikrosam is one of the most sought-after suppliers of automated lines for filament winding. The complete production process can be optimized using fast fiber splicing and spool replacement, automatic resin mixing and refiling, patented fiber cut and restart system, robot or gantry manipulators, continuous curing ovens, auxiliary stations, and single automation control and quality control software. The customers can reap several benefits from this, including superior efficiency, high-speed production, increased capacity and profitability, lower material waste, and minimum human intervention. Mikrosam is currently commissioning its latest and largest automated filament winding line for H2 tanks for an Asian customer in the automotive industry.
Mikrosam is at the forefront of hydrogen development projects with customers. Mikrosam’s new generation of filament winding equipment in development has achieved winding speeds exceeding 5m/s with very high fiber tension to produce high-quality tanks in the future. Additionally, one development project was recently realized in collaboration with the fast-growing company H2Storage from the Netherlands.
Isojet Equipements joins Composite Automation, LLC to increase their reach in the US, Canada and Mexico
Isojet Equipements is a world class manufacturer of out of autoclave resin injection molding system manufactuer. Using Vacuum assisted resin transfer molding, Isojet can fabricate large complex composites parts without the use of an autoclave. The systems are ideal for University and corporate Research and Development applications as well as full production systems. Be sure to check out their web page here. Contact us with your application today!
PCM Innovation and Lucas Industries Join forces with Composite Automation to increase coverage in North America
PCM Innovation and Lucas Industries are increasing their reach in the US, Canada and Mexico with the addition of six sales specialists
(Sainte-Claire, January 2022) PCM Innovation group, through a recent agreement with Composite Automation, now counts on a team of six sales experts in the composite materials industry in North America. PCM Innovation looks to the partnership in further expanding on its market share in engineering services and tooling manufacturing. Composite Automation describes itself as the only representative firm in North America that offers innovative solutions for companies manufacturing various structures in composite materials and particularly in the aerospace field.
The PCM Innovation group is comprised of three manufacturing facilities and five engineering offices that are located in Quebec City and Montreal, Canada, in Vermont and West Virginia, USA, operating under Lucas Industries, and also in Toulouse, France.
“We are honored and excited about our collaboration with PCM Innovation group”, states John Melilli, President and CEO of Composite Automation. “They have expertise in tooling and engineering services that our clients are seeking. They have experience in solving difficult applications. We feel confident that their capabilities will complement and enhance our portfolio and provide clients a single point of contact for diverse applications in composites manufacturing.”
Jean-Francois Hamel, CEO of PCM Innovation and Lucas Industries: “Our engineering specialty and knowledge in tooling for advanced composite materials has always opened the doors to major contractors in the world, the partnership with Composites Automation and its extensive business network will guarantee the success of our expertise benefiting a wider clientele.”
About PCM INNOVATION group:
PCM INNOVATION is a leader and integrator in engineering and tooling solutions for the industry. The company offers assembly lines, manufacturing fixtures, molds for advanced composites and prototypes or short-run production parts. Its customers operate mainly in the aviation and space sectors as well as in the transportation and energy fields.
NIAR (Wichita, USA) successfully commissioned Cevotec's SAMBA Pro Prepreg system
NIAR (Wichita, USA) successfully commissioned Cevotec’s SAMBA Pro Prepreg system
The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University (WSU) expands its portfolio of future composites production technologies with Cevotec’s SAMBA Pro Prepreg system. As the first Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) system on U.S. soil, it underscores NIAR’s leading position for aerospace and composites R&D. The system was commissioned mid-February 2022 in the renowned Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS). This is an important step in establishing FPP technology as an advanced composites manufacturing technology for aerospace components on international level and creates new R&D opportunities for U.S. customers and interested parties.
With nearly one million square feet of research and office space, NIAR provides research, design, testing, certification and training to the aerospace and manufacturing industries, FAA, Department of Defense and other government agencies. Cevotec’s SAMBA system expands the institute’s portfolio in the field of automated production technologies. Since FPP enables the fully automated lay-up of very complex-shaped parts and is compatible with a broad variety of materials, it is the perfect enhancement to existing robotic production equipment such as AFP and ATL systems at NIAR.
Installation and commissioning at ATLAS were finished mid-February and the system is now ready for first projects. ATLAS Director Dr. Waruna Seneviratne is looking forward to putting the FPP system into operation and is sure: “The SAMBA Pro system will impressively demonstrate the advantages Fiber Patch Placement technology has for the automated production of complex aerostructures in commercial as well as in DOD aircraft production.”
One of the new features of the SAMBA Pro Prepreg system is the ultrasonic cutting unit. With the improved cutting performance, especially for prepreg material, various patch sizes of rectangular shape with an areal weight of up to 300 gsm can be cut out of the fiber tape. The patch size and cutting contour as well as the position of the patch at the gripper are monitored by two quality inspection cameras, ensuring that only in-spec material is being processed and placed precisely on intended positions. Featured with an advanced material cooling, the SAMBA system can process a wide variety of carbon fibers, glass fibers and other technical materials, both in dry fiber and prepreg configuration.
The SAMBA system operates with a large 6-axis tool manipulator and a fast 4-axis Scara placement robot with three different gripper sizes. Available in sizes from 45 mm x 90 mm up to 60 mm x 240 mm, the gripper adapts to highly complex surfaces. Patches can be placed across 90° angles and on biaxially curved surfaces without negative draping effects. Despite the high complexity of possible lay-up shapes, a high areal throughput of up to 9 m² / hour is achieved.
“Together with our U.S. partner, Composite Automation, we are really proud to install a SAMBA Pro system at NIAR, the United States’ premier aviation research institute,” states Thorsten Groene, CEO and Co-founder at Cevotec. “It’s an important step to bring FPP technology to US-based composite manufacturers, and we look forward to working with NIAR on further advancing the FPP process and applications.”
John Melilli, President/CEO of Composite Automation LCC, is convinced: ”The disruptive and flexible FPP technology will help to drive aerospace composites development at the important Wichita site.” The new system at NIAR will open multiple options for interested manufacturers for the evaluation of FPP technology for their purposes, including new application and process development, integration with existing processes, prototyping, and testing.
Cevotec and Composite Automation will be present at the SAMPE conference and exhibition from May 23-26 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Interested parties can meet the team at booth S30 and discuss possible collaborations regarding the new SAMBA Pro Prepreg system at NIAR.
Munich-based automation specialist Cevotec offers one of the world’s most advanced production systems for complex fiber composites. At the intersection of composites, mechanical engineering and software, Cevotec develops production systems and software based on Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) technology: SAMBA and ARTIST STUDIO. The production systems enable the automated lay-up of carbon fibers, glass fibers, adhesive films and other technical fibers on complex 3D geometries. Manufacturers use FPP technology to produce e.g. multi-material composite aerostructures, composite pressure vessel reinforcements, and other high-performance components in a quality-controlled, fully automated lay-up process. Switching from conventional processes to Fiber Patch Placement enables cost & time savings of 20%-60%. More information: www.cevotec.com/en.
NIAR provides research, testing, certification and training for aviation and manufacturing technologies. Established in 1985, NIAR has a $96 million annual budget; a staff of 650; and nearly one million square feet of laboratory and office space in four locations across the city of Wichita, the Air Capital of the World. NIAR laboratories include Additive Manufacturing, Advanced Coatings, Advanced Manufacturing, Aging Aircraft, Ballistics/Impact Dynamics, CAD/CAM, Composites/Advanced Materials, Crash Dynamics, Environmental/Electromagnetic Test, Full-scale Structural Test, Nondestructive Test, Reverse Engineering, Robotics/Automation, Virtual Engineering, eXtended Reality and the Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel. More information: www.niar.wichita.edu.
National Institute for Aviation Research
Waruna Seneviratne, Ph.D., ATLAS Director
Wichita State University
1845 Fairmount St., Wichita, USA
Phone: +1 316 978 5221 firstname.lastname@example.org www.niar.wichita.edu
About Composite Automation:
Composite Automation, LLC is the only manufacturer’s representative in North America purely focused on the composites manufacturing space. As a multi-line representative we are able to introduce non competing technologies to clients as we work with them to solve manufacturing challenges. Along with our principles we become subject matter experts and help with the creation of a trade study, RFI, RFQ and machine specification to automate the manufacture of composite parts, prepregs or intermediaries. Our principles complement each other to add value to our customer’s search for innovative automation solutions. More information: www.compositeautomation.com.
Single-step prepreg slitting and rewinding unit to advance NIAR ATLAS aviation research
Mikrosam, in collaboration with Composite Automation, delivers this custom-made machine, which offers slit flexibility, in-process inspection system and performs quality control on the fly.
Mikrosam partners with the University of Delaware's Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM) on automated tape placement (ATP)
UD-CCM (https://www.ccm.udel.edu) has selected Mikrosam (https://mikrosam.com) and their US representative Composite Automation LLC (https://www.compositeautomation.com) to deliver an integrated ATP machine for automatic placement of dry, thermoset and thermoplastic tape. Equipment specifications include placement of thin to standard ply thickness tape (up to 1 inch width), laser and IR heating with in-situ temperature control and thermal camera feedback, and horizontal axes allowing manufacturing of full-scale prototypes (10 ft length). Mikrosam is designating UD-CCM as their primary academic partner in the US providing open software and hardware access enabling R&D to develop new material solutions, in-situ process control and path/placement optimization. Robotic tape placement of composites in dry, thermoset and thermoplastic formats enables precision control of fiber orientation for high-performance applications with the benefit to meet higher production rates. Together, UD-CCM, Mikrosam and Composite Automation, LLC will collaborate to provide a place for North American composites manufacturing companies can perform R&D, including ITAR programs. Contact me for more information!
Additive AI and ScanTech can provide innovative 3D scanning systems and turn key installations. Their KSCAN-MagicII composite 3D scanners feature advanced dual infrared laser + blue laser technology with five standard working modes. It provides superior accuracy and repeatability without peer in the industry. Its unparalleled scanning speed, accuracy, detail, scanning area, and depth of field.
Aerospace manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI, San Diego, CA, US) is developing a novel process for the fabrication of thermoplastic composite structures that obviates the need for traditional molds or tooling. The system is expected to have application in the aerospace, space, marine and wind energy end markets.
Although it has not been formally named, the tool-less process uses two 6-axis robots working cooperatively to place thermoplastic tape into open space within a metallic or similar frame that provides the boundaries of the structure being fabricated (see photo). Composite Automation LLC (Cape Coral, FL, US), using Mikrosam (Prilep, Macedonia) equipment, worked with GE-ASI to develop the automation.
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