Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) is a manufacturing technique under which precise fiber tapes are laid in order to manufacture multi-layered composite products. The product manufactured using Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) technology offers significant strength to products with reduced overall weight. ATL machines are designed for high speed tape laying of aircraft structural components. AFP- ATL technology aids in better precision and increased deposition rates.
Automated fiber placement technology has undergone significant improvements in the past decades. AFP process evolved to manufacture double-curved surfaces with the placement head automatically handling the start, stop, and cutting of individual tows. Additionally, automated fiber placement (AFP) machines have been improved by manufacturers by incorporating additional mechanisms such as gantry systems and robotic manipulators. The combination of accurate robot technologies and modular AFP heads provide a flexible platform that is capable of producing a wide variety of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) parts with speed, quality, and reliability.
The aerospace industry is growing and manufacturers are searching for innovative ways to ramp up production. The airplanes are complex, highly engineered machines and their components must be manufactured with an extremely high degree of accuracy. Advancement in robotic integration solutions are helping the aerospace industry to overcome these challenges. The aircraft production process offers high potential for automation. Robotics can fill the needs of fabrication jobs including carbon fiber layup, trimming, routing, and drilling. For such fabrication process companies use Automated Fiber Placements and Automated Tape Laying (AFP- ATL) machines. Robots can also do assembly jobs such as fastening, sealing, and painting. Robots are also now used to inspect aircraft, a very time-intensive process due to strict standards required of the aircraft industry.
AFP has become an important processing method and was identified as the most suitable to produce high performance aerospace components. MAGCincinnati, MTorres, Electroimpact, Coriolis and Broetje-Automation Composites are commercial manufacturers of AFP and ATL machines. AFP technology is currently being used in the aerospace industry to make parts up to 100 feet long.
For instance, in November 2020, Firefly Aerospace announced to utilize Ingersoll Machine Tools’ AFP systems for production of alpha rocket airframes. Firefly will install its first AFP system at its manufacturing and test facility in Texas, U.S. in May 2021, after which the Alpha rocket airframe will be requalified using AFP manufacturing processes. The second AFP system and automated assembly line is destined for Firefly’s new Florida Space Coast factory and launch site at Cape Canaveral, set to be installed by the beginning of 2022.
Among machine type, AFP machine segment is expected to exhibit the steady growth during the forecast period. AFP machine is defined as an automated fiber placement machine, which is an advanced method to fabricate composite structures for the aircraft's components such as airframes and other industrial products. AFP machine uses one ply (layer) at a time method, in order to build the complete structure. AFP provides several benefits such as fabrication of highly customized parts, as every single ply can be placed individually at different angles, making the component sustain more load compared to the conventional manufacturing method. Furthermore, other benefits offered by the AFP machine include shorter production lead time, faster lay-up rates, fewer stoppages and changeovers, increased material yield, and others. Due to these benefits AFP machines are gaining popularity in the aviation industry.
Key features of the study:
“*” marked represents similar segmentation in other categories in the respective section.
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