Fiber placement, as a manufacturing technology has proven itself as the method of producing advanced composites. The final composite parts are able to fully exploit special and an- isotropic characteristics due to the freedom that this manufacturing process gives to the designer. To achieve this high level of composite characteristics requires the creativity of the composite designer and the complete system for automated fiber placement. Until recently these tools were only available to large defense contractors and big aerospace providers, due to their massive cost, high maintenance and operation fees, and the lack of interest to serve the researchers and the medium-scale producers.
Combining the inter-disciplinary expertise in composites and advanced machine production, Mikrosam has built and proven the concept of automated fiber placement. With this innovative solution, the small to medium-scale producers and research institutes can begin to fully exploit their creative composite design capabilities and step-up to a higher level of composite production. Unlike other solutions, all the components necessary to be able to produce a fiber placed composite are provided by Mikrosam in a single package.
Mikrosam is offering the complete system for automated fiber placement, with the ability to customize the feature set and machine design to match your needs and budget.
- Fiber placement head
- Offline programming and analysis – MikroPlace
- Online control and data acquisition – MikroAutomate
- Customized machine kinematics
- Advanced fiber creel
The fiber placement machine is part of Mikrosam’s Integrated Composites Production Program.
Fiber placement head
The heart of the deposition process is the fiber placement head. It allows on-the-fly cutting, clamping and restarting of every single tow, while maintaining proper temperature difference between the deposition surface and inside the head. Through the temperature difference it is able to conveniently transport the tows by keeping them cold, and make them stick on the surface by using controlled heating just before placement. Placement on the surface is done through a special roller to place every single tow precisely next to each other while allowing each one to be placed at a different radius – fiber steering. The final and crucial process step is the high compaction force being applied over the fibers to ensure that all the layers can be properly homogenized to their ideal structure.
Mikrosam’s fiber placement head has been specially engineered to provide low cost of operation to the user. The operator is provided with an easy way to access all the areas of the head that need cleaning, and a quick-clean method to replace dirty parts with spare clean ones to maximize the machine’s effective uptime. After long use, parts that are common to wear out are easily replaceable using standard parts and the operator is precisely warned ahead of time in order to be able to carefully plan the production schedule.
The abilities of the head can be customized according to your needs. The number of tows, the size and type of pre-preg used can be provided to modify the design and verify the proper operation of the head.
MikroPlace provides a sophisticated environment for the composite part designer to be able to create composite structures using automated fiber placement techniques, and at the end, to generate the actual program to be executed on an AFP machine. The part designer can perform most of the necessary steps in developing an advanced composite part right in the MikroPlace environment, by being able to draw or import the part’s tool, create ply laminates from numerous strategies, analyze and fix production issues, and do custom post-processing modifications of the final layup.
MikroPlace has been built from the ground-up with the composite designer in mind, to allow the designer maximum flexibility in developing, simulating and producing the final product. It is well known that composite product creation is a challenging and creative process, one that can also yield great results.
The environment has been built around this concept to provide for the inherent iterative process. The core of the software package is built around a robust, industry standard geometric kernel, providing full NURBS support and easy import/export from the leading CAD packages such as Fibersim, CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks and others. For customers using existing packages for composite design, we provide modules to import the ply definitions from external composite design software, and easily prepare the final manufacturing code for those plies.
Online control and data acquisition – MikroAutomate
MikroAutomate is an online control and data acquisition system tailored to the specific needs of fiber placement production. The system has been designed to provide an intuitive interface over the complete production process, localized to the language of choice by the customer. It allows the operator to run a production program, override set of parameters while running, and provide complete tracking of important data points during the production process. MikroAutomate integrates the functionalities of a modern CNC system, SCADA and Real-Time control into a single, easy-to-use interface.
Our open-systems concept uses industry proven and popular packages to provide for the functionality, fully integrated for rich control over the machine. MikroAutomate is based on the PC platform, using high-quality and standard components that are quickly replaceable, and do not lock the customer to a single manufacturer. We provide help to our customers that are willing to go a step further and extend their own functionality, or integrate with their higher-level production management systems.
MikroAutomate provides a complete data tracking method to acquire, store and easily retrieve data on a variety of aspects of the production process and the machine itself. The collected data can be used to generate reports and inspect history production runs. This type of data can be paramount in helping researchers track the effects of production parameters on the final part, achieving higher quality with less variation on the production process, and increasing the machine’s effective uptime.
Integrated Composite Production Program
The automated fiber placement machine by Mikrosam is one part of the company’s integrated composite production program. The program includes crucial machines and processes required for a company to achieve complete control over their composite production lines. For example, to be able to use the fiber placement system, a customer can decide to produce their own unidirectional pre-preg using Mikrosam’s Pre-preg making lines, compared to buying it at a markup. The advantage of using Mikrosam’s pre-preg lines is that the full control and quality is in the hands of the customer, allowing one to develop technology that is a step above the competition.