The primary objective of the research is to develop a quantifiable, risk-based assessment methodology for determining the service life of advanced composite structures aided by high-fidelity damage modeling in order to optimize advanced composite structural design concepts and to provide useful insight into sustainment of composite structures. Secondary objectives include the development of certification framework for enabling novel materials and advanced structural concepts used for automated manufacturing. Finally, we will discuss expanding the framework for developing innovative in-service inspection technologies for advanced structures and bonded joints, validating high-fidelity composite repair analysis techniques, and assessment of aging of composite structures for life extension and structural enhancements.
AFRL Modeling for Affordable Sustainable Composites (MASC) – Automated Technologies for Hi-Rate Manufacturing
Large format composites manufacturing suffers from high costs of retooling. As automated layup reaches new industries, market demand for equipment targeting decades-long production runs becomes less common. Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) and its deployment in manufacturing systems must respond with innovative equipment configurations and flexible processes.
Concurrently, large-format additive manufacturing (LFAM) is experiencing a generational change. Experts are emerging while machine builders and material suppliers are maturing. A demanding and concentrated user group with unique process challenges requires focused yet flexible solutions.
This presentation highlights application concepts born from the acceleration of LFAM and the paradigm shift in production AFP. Case studies, market segments and emerging technology will be discussed in depth while focusing on the hybrid machine tool as an enabling design principle.
Ingersoll Machine Tools (Rockford, IL) brings to Additive Manufacturing an over 125-year history of engineering innovation in large scale machine tools for the aerospace, transportation, energy and defense industries. Today Ingersoll designs and builds advanced subtractive and additive manufacturing machines for a wide variety of complex processes and motion control applications.
Unless someone is involved in manufacturing, when a person hears the word robot, they most likely picture a machine out of a sci-fi film that resembles a human. The term robot probably also draws up the fear in most of us that robots will someday make our jobs obsolete. In fact, robots already exist in many manufacturing facets to improve quality, efficiency, and profitability. This presentation seeks to explain the different composites processes that currently take advantage of the unique skillset robots offer, the pros and cons of selecting robotics, the future projections of robots, and why we should welcome them with open arms instead of dreading their arrival in the world of automated composites.
Introduce the history of Fiber Patch Placement with the goal of creating context for the progression of the technology. Thereafter, I will show the various applications where Fiber Patch Placement has had a significant impact in meeting or exceeding manufacturing metrics for success as well as new applications. I will then inform the group about the new system available for Manufacturing Research and Development at the National Institute of Aviation Research’s ATLAS lab in Wichita, KS.
There are at least three significant cost driving problems with the lamination of modern composite aerospace components. These problems are exaggerated for high production rate systems but affect all forms of automated fiber placement style lamination. 1) The utilization of AFP lamination equipment is structurally stuck at about 25-30%. This is true even though the systems have improved immensely in both reliability and performance. 2) The input costs are very high, for example carbon fiber prepreg or thermoplastic. 3) Autoclaves are huge and expensive and Airframers seem to dislike them a great deal.
This presentation will address the problems associated with item (1) poor utilization of AFP equipment and the steps we have taken to increase it by a factor of at least 4. We will explain how the quality systems in place structurally hold our AFP equipment to such low utilization and explain how AFP4.0 address these factors. AFP4.0’s main thrust maintains the safeguards that ensure acceptable laminations but automate the manual interventions that currently happen between each ply which are the cause of this low utilization.
In recent years there has been a continual advancement in thermoplastic parts. Improvements have come from many different sources, working together to produce, test and improve the whole process of production. The thermoplastic prepreg, machine builders, and process steps have been continually improved to bring about final parts that can be used in aviation.
In this presentation we will specifically look at the automated layup process of high-temperature thermoplastic prepreg, on complex shaped parts. The problems that arise in this process are numerous, but there has been continual advancement in improving the process parameters, machine hardware and methods of control. We have been performing many real layup tests on coupons, small scale parts, and mid-size prototype parts, using PPS, PAEK, PEKK, and PEEK material from most world-known prepreg suppliers. From these results, we discuss the improvements in various process control methods utilized to get much better final parts than it has been expected from the past and how Tier 1 suppliers are using these results for final material selection. Finally, we present briefly how to transition some of those learnings to tool-less manufacturing of TPCs and discuss some limits, capabilities, and future opportunities in expanding this novel approach to new markets for TPC manufacturing.
In the past it was easy to determine a part was done by ATL or AFP. Easy parts were mainly done by Automatic Tape Laying ATL, complex ones were typically done by Automatic Fiber Placement AFP. Today, it is needed to determine the right business case for each part based on scrap ratio, productivity, and feasibility. This presentation will define 2-3 business cases examples justifying the final machine selection architecture and technology, focusing on latest, MTorres Tape Laying technology called V3 ATL head. Due to the increase in speed, and lower acquisition price of ATL vs AFP, the new head is bringing new life into the ATL world.
The A5 (Advanced Automation for Agile Aerospace Applications) program is a four-year effort, sponsored by the United States Air Force Research Lab, to enable agile and flexible automation for critical Air Force sustainment needs. Led by a development team from the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, Southwest Research Institute, and the Boeing Company, this program seeks to change the paradigm of traditional robotics by leveraging the advanced capabilities of ROS. Traditional automation solutions for aerospace tend to be purpose-built machines, often dedicated to a specific aircraft or component, that require large capital investment and operating expenses. This effort pushes toward a future in which the automation solutions can easily adapt to new tasks and environments and use sensor data to close the loop on process variability. To that end, the team has developed an open-source robotics platform for rapidly deploying automation solutions for a variety of processes, including sanding and non-destructive inspection. The goal of this presentation is to illustrate how we applied and developed ROS open-source software tools to construct this automation platform. The presentation will describe the core capabilities of the system, highlight the many challenges encountered during design, and describe the solutions we implemented in deploying the prototype system for both these initial processes and inspection and extending the software to other platforms and applications.
- Understanding the capability of contemporary open-source tools for advanced capability development.
- Understand the feasibility for a potential advanced application in their domain.
- Scope out a potential project that leverages these advanced capabilities.
To remain competitive, manufacturers must implement the most cost-effective methods of changing over the tooling in their NC machines, but often times the smaller shops don’t have the depth of experience that large job shops benefit from. This Case Study presentation is intended to level the playing field.
We present a brief overview of existing parallel kinematic robots (PKMs) and look into how workspace singularities and joint limits have reduced their applicability to small workspaces and niched applications.
This is compared with the industry’s demand to use robots for both additive and subtractive manufacturing and how existing accuracy and rigidity have shown not to be sufficient for good part quality.
The fundamental differences between traditional robots and PKMs are explained in the context of the new potentials they bring. The Cognibotics parallel kinematic robot concept based on eight links is explained, and we show how this solution overcomes both the limitations of existing PKMs and the shortcomings of traditional industrial robots. We explain how the solution uses 6 links, arranged to optimize the cartesian workspace size and rigidity, combined with two additional links to provide a large orientational workspace for 5 and 6 axis processes with a need for speed, accuracy, and rigidity.
We also present an example of a prototype robot installation based on this concept which provides great properties for a hybrid manufacturing solution, capable of both additive and subtractive manufacturing.
- Explain how parallel kinematic robots can achieve higher performance than traditional robots.
- Understand performance limitations of articulated industrial robots on today’s market.
- Identify new manufacturing processes which can be improved with the use of parallel kinematic robots.