CAMX 2018 preview: ARM Automation
Appears in Print as: 'Automated ply handling system for cutting, kitting, layup'
ARM Automation Inc. (Austin, TX, US) is featuring the Ply Picker, a fully automated solution for cutting table clearing, ply inspection, kitting and ply layup. The Ply-Picker system, says ARM Automation, addresses the need for picking of complex cut fabric shapes for part inspection, kitting and automatic layup of preform stacks, while addressing the challenges associated with cut-ply picking and handling, such as complex/varied shapes, uncut fibers and ply distortion. This patent-pending solution identifies uncut fibers and stuck materials prior to lifting them from the nest. Ply shapes and surfaces reportedly are presented in an undistorted manner for high-resolution inspection and in-situ FOD detection. These plies can be placed into kits or directly laminated into preform stacks, with automated removal of backer material and post-layup inspection. The Ply-Picker system can be adapted to cover a range of shapes and sizes, including those smaller than a thumbnail to others as large as the cutting table itself. The robotic workcell solution derives pick information directly from ply shape data and dynamic nest location information to locate ply shapes and deliver them to kit locations. Lower volume operations may require a single robot stacking plies onto open kit-tables at rates of only a few plies per minute. More intensive applications can use multiple pick heads simultaneously, tending one or more conveyorized tables and delivering pieces to automated kit carts or layup stations. Booth F34.
The use of continuous fiber in additive manufacturing systems is not trivial, but it is being done. As this fabrication technology evolves and matures, options for applying it in everything from automotive to aerospace to consumer composites will expand tremendously, creating a host of new opportunities for the composites industry. Read here for who is providing what kind of additive manufacturing technology for use in composites fabrication.
Wind energy is putting the uncertainty that was the hallmark of this industry in the rearview mirror. Electricity from this renewable resource is cheaper and more competitive than it's ever been — and getting more so. This massive consumer of composite materials has a bright future.
Boeing and Airbus each is generating as much as a 1 million lb of cured and uncured carbon fiber prepreg waste each year from 787 and A350 XWB production. If you include the entire supply chain for these planes, the total is closer to 4 million lb/year. And with the automotive industry poised to consume (and waste) more carbon fiber than ever, recycling of composite materials has become an absolute necessity. The technology is there, but the markets are not. Yet.