MAG (Hebron, Ky., USA) is introducing at the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) WINDPOWER 2009 show, May 4-6 in Chicago, Ill., a new system that allows for the automated manufacture of composite wind blades. The company's new Rapid Material Placement System (RMPS) and quick-cure molding system for wind blades reportedly combine to reduce labor content by two-thirds and double throughput.
RMPS is an automated blade molding facility unto itself, capable of spraying in-mold coatings, dispensing/lay-up of glass and carbon fiber materials and applying of adhesive. It offers 3 m/sec (10 ft/sec) lay-up speed for placement of materials in blade skin, spar cap, and sheer web molds, with laser- and vision-based wrinkle detection in cross or longitudinal directions. Depending on the laminate schedule, the system can reduce lay-up time 85 percent on a 45m/148 ft blade.
Two gantry systems adjacent to one another can each produce a 45m blade shell half in less than 2 hours, with half the manual labor of conventional methods. The gantry system rides on rails that are flush with the floor. It also carries bulk supply systems for gel-coat and adhesive. The RMPS is controlled by a CNC and powered with programmable drives and servomotors. Offline programming software developed by MAG creates the CNC code from imported CAD data.
On the finishing side of blade automation, MAG will introduce a five-axis machining system for root drilling/milling/sawing.