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21. September 2016
Automated Dynamics installs laser heating system at University of Sheffield

Automated Dynamics (Schenectady, NY) has installed a laser-based heating system (LHS) at UK’s University Of Sheffield and their Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) for use in thermoplastic composite production.

AMRC works alongside the industry to ensure development of the latest manufacturing technologies. They pride themselves on being at the forefront of new advancements, and considers composites as one of the "world’s most exciting manufacturing areas to experience growth."

Automated Dynamics’ laser heating system offers another way for researchers and educational bodies to explore an emerging technology and the associated advantages. Current hot gas heating methods have been used for automated fiber placement of thermoplastic composites, but can come with relatively slow processing rates and increased expense. Alternately, laser heating provides higher energy density and more uniform heating for faster processing rates, higher bond strength and superior surface finish. Improved process control is achieved through closed loop control of the bond zone temperature in real time. This is possible due to the millisecond response time of the LHS compared to the hot gas torch (HGT) response time of minutes. Overall, these changes translate to a 30% savings in production time and a corresponding decrease in manufacturing costs. Enabling companies to explore these methods allows for experimentation and prototyping with relatively low upfront investment, as opposed to purchasing and implementing new systems independently. In addition, testing the feasibility of new parts and processes encourages growth, innovation and expansion.

Most importantly, though, it provides the next generation of engineers and manufacturers exposure to the types of processes and technologies that will advance the composites industry.

Automated Dynamics prototype laser heating system with thermal camera temperature control.

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