Airbus orders six MAG fiber placement machines for A350 fuselage

Airbus announced at IMTS '08 that it has ordered six MAG Cincinnati automated fiber placement (AFP) machines for development and construction of fuselage panels for the forthcoming A350 XWB.

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Airbus (Toulouse, France) announced on Sept. 10 that it has placed orders with MAG Cincinnati (Hebron, Ky.) for six VIPER automated fiber placement (AFP) machines for automated fabrication of composite fuselage panels for the composite airframe on the upcoming A350 XWB commercial aircraft, which will be, according to Airbus, more than 50 percent composite construction by weight. The six VIPER 6000 series AFP machines, MAG Cincinnati’s largest, can produce panels for fuselage sections up to 6.3m/20.7 ft in diameter, says the company. Installed at Airbus facilities in France, Germany and Spain, the AFPs will be used for part and process development be-fore transitioning to production of 92 percent of the A350 XWB fuselage. The equipment commonality enables sharing of knowledge base and production efficiencies, noted Randy Kappesser, vice president of MAG Cincinnati’s Composites business unit.

Airbus and European partners previously purchased 14 MAG Cincinnati composite systems — four VIPER AFP machines and 10 automated tape layers (ATLs) — to produce parts for A320, A330, A340, A380 and A400M aircraft, including wing stringers, spars, skins and elevators, tail skins and horizontal planes, engine cowls, fuselage skins and belly fairings. According to Kappesser, VIPERs enable independent control over feed, clamp, cut and start for up to 32 individual tows or slit tapes. This enables automated on-the-fly adjustment of fiber bandwidth, controlled bending of fiber layout around changing contours and precise configuration of openings (doors, hatches, etc.). Multistrand control reportedly produces wrinkle-free, near-net shape layups of enclosed and deeply contoured structures and concave/convex surfaces, enabling precise production of fuselage sections, panels, cowls, ducts and nozzle cones for commercial, military and space vehicles.