Head switches from fiber placement to tape laying

Fives Machining Systems Inc. has introduced a new GEMINI composite processing system that can switch in minutes from automated fiber placement to automated tape laying.

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Fives Machining Systems Inc. (formerly MAG IAS, Erlanger, Ky.) has introduced a new GEMINI composite processing system that can switch in minutes from automated fiber placement to automated tape laying. The new GEMINI system uses MAG's VIPER automated fiber placement (AFP) head, and CHARGER or the Forest Liné ATLAS automated tape laying (ATL) heads. Head docking cradles outside the workzone allow offline setup or maintenance of heads while the machine continues to produce parts. Head changing requires about two minutes. The gantry design of the system accommodates fixed floor-mounted or rotation-type tooling in outer mold line (OML) or inner mold line (IML) configurations. The gantry is modular and available in various widths, as well as with X-axis rails on top of the floor or in-floor. It can be ordered in any length required, in addition to carrying multiple gantries. A new wireless control pendant gives the operator greater freedom and convenience in working with the system.

The AFP heads handle tow widths of 3.2, 6.4 and 12.7 mm (0.125, 0.25, 0.5 inch), producing fiber band widths up to 203.3 mm/8 inches. They provide independent control over feed, clamp, cut and restart for up to 16 individual tows of composite prepreg slit tape, allowing automated "on-the-fly" adjustment of the fiber band width, controlled placement of fibers around changing contours and precise configuration of openings.

MAG's CHARGER tape-laying head deposits carbon/epoxy tape at speeds up to 100 m/min (4000 ipm). It applies 75-, 150- or 300-mm (3-, 6- or 12-inch) carbon/epoxy tape with any orientation and number of plies. The head allows side loading of tape rolls up to 300 mm/12 inches wide and 650 mm/25.6 inches diameter. Common hardware permits layup of 150-mm/6-inch and 300-mm/12-inch wide tape with minimal changeover time. The advanced head design also features integrated ultrasonic laminate cutting, cutter depth-setting assistance, and dockable inkjet marking for maximum system flexibility and performance.

The Forest Liné ATLAS tape head has the ability to dispense pre-cut rolls of material that were made on the Forest Liné Access system. Along with the pre-cut roll of tape, the ATLAS head can also simultaneously carry bulk rolls of material 150 or 300 mm (6 or 12 inches) wide, allowing a part to be laid using pre-cut rolls of material and material from the bulk rolls of tape.