ATK orders two new AFP machines for F-35

MAG Industrial Automation Systems has sold two VIPER 6000 automated fiber placement machines to ATK for use at ATK's Clearfield, Utah, USA, facility to produce wingskins for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fiber.

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MAG IAS LLC (Erlanger, Ky.) reported on Feb. 9 that two of its trademarked VIPER 6000 automated fiber placement machines have been ordered by Alliant TechSystems (ATK, Clearfield, Utah). The VIPER systems will supplement ATK’s manufacturing program for the F-35 Lightning II jet fighter. The two machines will be the first MAG AFP systems installed at ATK’s Clearfield facility, and they will bring to a total of seven, the number of AFP machines installed at ATK’s plants.

The VIPER AFP system provides independent control over feed, clamp, cut and re-start for up to 32 individual tows of composite prepreg slit tape.

This arrangement allows automated “on-the-fly” adjustment of the fiber band width, and enables controlled placement of fibers around changing contours as well as precise configuration of openings. The system enables wrinkle-free, near-net-shape layup of enclosed and deeply contoured structures and concave/convex surfaces. These capabilities support precision production of fuselage sections, panels, cowls, ducts and nozzle cones for commercial, military and space vehicles. The VIPER 6000 handles tow widths of 3.2, 6.4 and 12.7 mm (0.125, 0.25, 0.5 in), producing fiber band widths up to 406.4 mm (16 in).

The order includes MAG’s ACES (Advanced Composites Environment Suite) software, a modular programming and simulation system, which will be customized with new functionality to aid programming of existing machines at the plant. The two systems are scheduled for shipment to the Clearfield site in early 2012.

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