Industry 4.0 Automation Unveiled for Building Complex Composites

Cevotec enables aerospace manufacturers to automate the multi-material layup of geometrically complex components in one integrated production system.

Cevotec enables aerospace manufacturers to automate the multi-material layup of geometrically complex components in one integrated production system.

With its Fiber Patch Placement system, SAMBA, Cevotec enables aerospace manufacturers to automate the multi-material layup of geometrically complex components in one integrated production system, monitored and guided by self-corrective process control.

Cevotec offers production systems based on the Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) technology: SAMBA Multi features parallel feeding units for processing up to four different materials and placing them precisely on 3D sandwich cores. By mounting the placement unit on a linear axis, the concept also enables the production of particularly long and wide components in aerospace applications. Adapted to the size of specific components, the patches are scaled to letter-size dimensions, providing for a high material throughput. An integrated, automated gripper station enables the switching of gripper sizes during the process, so that smaller patches can be used for lay-up in high-complexity areas of the part.

Image courtesy of Cevotec.

“We have implemented the Fiber Patch Placement technology as a series of individually-controllable patch placement processes, which in turn makes the entire component production cycle highly controllable,” says Felix Michl, chief technical officer of Cevotec. “One of our most important features is the in-process material control with two vision inspection units and self-correcting algorithms. The first unit identifies the quality of each patch that is cut. The second unit identifies the relative position of the patch on the placement gripper once picked up. Thereby, the in-process quality control system ensures that only 100% in-spec raw material is being placed precisely on its intended position.”

Additional industry 4.0 modules for SAMBA systems cover predictive maintenance and in-depth analytics on production data. Analyses of production data enable key insights into process reliability and repeatability. Correlating the data with actual layup quality enables engineers to adjust process parameters in real-time and—in the future—also AI-assisted. 

Such advanced process controls enable manufacturers to improve their part quality, and also equipment reliability and availability. “These benefits usually come as an upside to baseline savings of 20% to 60% in production cost & time that have been demonstrated by the technology when switching from manual lay-up to Fiber Patch Placement,” says Thorsten Groene, managing director of Cevotec.

Cevotec enables manufacturers to build complex fiber composites by smart process automation based on Fiber Patch Placement technology. With SAMBA Series, Cevotec offers a customizable fiber lay-up automation platform for challenging 3D geometries and multi-material laminates with complex fiber orientation. ARTIST STUDIO is the associated CAE software for generating patch-based fiber laminates and automated robot programming. Along with development services that include FE-based modeling and simulation, Cevotec offers the process chain from digital design to final fiber product.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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