Automated Production of One-of-a-Kind Fiber Composite Preforms

A.S. Sørensen and L. Dalgaard (Denmark)


Applications, Manufacturing, Composites, Robots, One of a kind, Ultrasonic welding


In this paper, we present a prototype system for automated fabrication of fiber composite preforms. During an inter disciplinary development project, we have designed and implemented a robot system that can fabricate one-of-a kind fiber composite preforms, based on glass- or carbon fibers with a thermoplastic matrix. By developing a tool that can lay out, and spot-weld fibers to a thermoplastic surface, we have enabled a robot manipulator to build up fiber composite preforms one roving (yarn) at a time. By using a hybrid yarn, mixing structural fibers (e.g. graphite or glass), with thermoplastic fibers (e.g. PET), the fibers can be welded to the surface, as well as underlying fiber material, using ultrasonic welding. The resulting preform is later consolidated by heating under vacuum in our pro cess oven. Our prototype demonstrates the technological feasibility of building up a preform one roving at a time, giving total control of the direction of the individual fibers. As the material properties are decided by the layout of the fibers, it thus becomes possible to optimize the properties of fiber composites, beyond the possibilities offered by tra ditional woven preforms.

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