MTorres (Torres de Elorz, Navarra, Spain) will provide the automated fiber placement (AFP) machines that Airbus (Toulouse, France) will use at its plants in Stade, Germany and Illescas, Spain to manufacture its latest model A350 upper and lower wing skins.
Airbus is making the switch from using the MTorres automated tape laying (ATL) machines, to the latest generation of automated fiber placement (AFP) machines, also developed by MTorres. This change implies a substantial increase in the overall process productivity and a significant reduction on the material scrap generated in that process, according to MTorres. Relevant cost savings have also been identified by Airbus.
Airbus analyzed the industrialization advantages of the wing manufacture using this AFP technology versus the originally ATL technology chosen at the program early days. This analysis results have shown a clear advantageous business case, paving the way for the technological change.
The overall solution chosen includes an automatic head change capability, built in the AFP machines to carry out the head change within seconds, so that the process of replacing used carbon fiber spools for new ones has virtually no impact on the overall time the machine is laying down the material to build the part.