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Automated Multi-Material Fiber Placement

Cevotec recently presented its latest Fiber Patch Placement developments at JEC World 2019. Featuring a multi-material feeding unit, SAMBA Multi production cells automate the time- and cost-intensive multi-material lay-up of aerospace sandwich components.

"Up to now, manufacturing multi-material components requires a lot of time-consuming and cost-intensive manual lay-up work," said a company spokesperson. "This is the case, for example, with sandwich components that are important for stiffness and weight reduction in aircraft construction." Their demanding material mix includes carbon fiber layers as well as glass fiber and adhesive films, which are required to improve the adhesion and compatibility of carbon fiber material and the commonly used aluminum honeycomb core. Following the demand for automated lay-up processes, Cevotec conceptualized the SAMBA Multi production system, enabling manufacturers to produce challenging multi-material parts fully automated in one single system.

SAMBA Multi is based on the Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) technology and features parallel feeding units for different materials to be processed and placed precisely on 3-D sandwich cores and lay-up molds. By mounting the placement robot and feeding unit on a linear axis, the concept also enables the production of particularly long and wide components in aerospace applications. Adapted to the size of specific components, the fiber patches are scaled to DIN-A5 and DIN-A4 dimensions, providing for a high material throughput. An integrated, automated gripper station enables the exchange of grippers with different sizes during the process, so that smaller patches can be used for lay-up in high-complexity areas of the part.

"The automated multi-material lay-up has a positive effect on process times and thus the production volume and cost of complex sandwich components," said the spokesperson. The fiber deposition with controlled pressure and heat enables skipping intermediate compactions and thus reduces process times significantly. In addition, FPP sustainably reduces recurring production costs in many applications. "Material savings of 20% - 50% play a major role, of course, but automation with FPP often enables further optimization of the overall process," said Felix Michl, CTO of Cevotec. "Another advantage of SAMBA Multi is the adaptability of the production system to operate economically in scenarios for both a few hundred and several thousand units per year. Due to the quick-change tool mounting system and short set-up times, product changes are easy and economically reasonable."

SAFRAN Nacelle, one of Cevotec's current project partners, focuses on Fiber Patch Placement technology to automate manual steps in the production of a major component of an engine nacelle structure. Materials processed in the SAMBA cell are carbon fiber prepreg, glass fiber prepreg and adhesive prepreg as auxiliary material. The project illustrates the potential of the high flexibility of the SAMBA automation platform for manufacturers and serves as blueprint for similar aerospace applications.

For more information contact:

Cevotec GmbH

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