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.