According to MAG IAS, its new Gemini Composite Processing System is the first system capable of switching in a matter of minutes from automated fiber placement to automated tape laying. The system is intended to reduce the equipment, infrastructure, and labor costs traditionally needed for two separate systems. The company is targeting aerospace suppliers who require cost economy and flexibility.
MAG says Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has purchased the first system for installation at ATK’s Luka, MS, facility.
The Gemini uses MAG’s Viper automated fiber placement (AFP) head with either a Charger or the Forest Liné Atlas automated tape laying heads. Head docking cradles outside the work zone allow efficient offline setup or maintenance of heads while the machine can continue to produce parts.
Head changing requires about two minutes.
The gantry design of the system accommodates both fixed floor-mounted or rotation type tooling in outer mold line or inner mold line configurations. The gantry is modular and available in various widths, as well as with X-axis rails on top of the floor or in-floor. It can be ordered in any length required, in addition to carrying multiple gantries. A new wireless control pendant gives the operator greater freedom and convenience in working with the system.
The AFP heads handle tow widths of 3.2, 6.4 and 12.7 mm, producing fiber band widths up to 203.3 mm. They provide independent control over feed, clamp, cut and restart for up to 16 individual tows of composite pre-preg slit tape, allowing automated “on-the-fly” adjustment of the fiber band width, controlled placement of fibers around changing contours, and precise configuration of openings. The system allows wrinkle-free, near-net-shape layup of enclosed and deeply contoured structures and concave/convex surfaces. It is ideal for precision production of fuselage sections, panels, cowls, ducts and nozzle cones for commercial, military and space vehicles, including parts that make use of lightweight honeycomb core materials.
MAG’s Charger tape laying head deposits carbon/epoxy tape at speeds up to 100 m/min while achieving aerospace grade placement accuracies on complex contours. It applies 75, 150 or 300-mm carbon/epoxy tape with any orientation and number of plies, ensuring consistent quality, part shape, thickness and strength. The head allows side loading of tape rolls up to 300-mm wide and 650-mm diam. Common hardware permits layup of 150-mm and 300-mm wide tape with minimal changeover time. The head design also features integrated ultrasonic laminate cutting, cutter depth-setting assistance, and dockable inkjet marking for maximum system flexibility and performance.
The Forest Liné Atlas tape head has the ability to dispense precut rolls of material that were made on the Forest Liné Access system. Along with the precut roll of tape, the Atlas head can also simultaneously carry bulk rolls of material 150 or 300-mm wide, allowing a part to be laid using pre-cut rolls of material and material from the bulk rolls of tape.