Lamination is understood as the process in which the robot, by means of a series of tools (rollers, punches, etc …), performs trajectories on the pre-deformed part placed on the mold, so that said part adapts perfectly, adopting the final correct form.
After years of manual moulding, this system is a robotised moulding cell, capable of automatically laminating carbon fibre reinforcements that have been preimpregnated (prepreg) with activated resin.
The aim is to make the manufacturing process more agile, overcoming the bottlenecks of manual moulding (hand lay-up), to increase production performances and repeatability, with a reduced final cost of the composite parts. Develop a flexible robotic system, capable to adapt to different specific geometries, without the need for complex and time-consuming reprogramming of the robot.
Two key technologies brought together :
1- Lamination CAD designer – a software tool to generate the lamination trajectories, extracting all required parameters from the CAD of the parts to be manufactured and of the robotic tools.
2- Mechanical design of the end-effectors for the ply lamination and the tool changer. These tools dynamically adapt the pressure applied on the prepreg.
Benefits for the users
Thanks to the solution, the lamination process of CFRP components will be more agile, leading to an automated environment that ensures improved quality and repeatability of the parts manufactured.
Moreover, the setup contributes to the achievement of significant economic and environmental benefits:
- Increase productivity: maximising the exploitation of moulds, which are very expensive assets;
- Time reduction for the moulding time of carbon fibre prepregs by 40%, compared to manual lamination;
- Reduction of manufacturing cost by 25%, considering robot cost-effectiveness and reduced defected parts;
- Reduction of waste material due to non-compliant products between 2-3%, caused by operator mistakes;
- CO2 emissions are saved thanks to the reduction of waste and faulty components in the production process. A reduction of about 0.9 tons of CO2 is estimated, referred to as a batch of 1000 parts;
Small manufacturers of CFRP components widely use manual labour in their production process. Options for
automation are available only to manufacture large batches or very specific parts. CANNIER introduces technologies that are more suitable than the “hand lay-up” process.
The mechanical design of a custom robot end-effectors presents a set of blunt tools for lamination of different geometries and geometrical features, and a dedicated tool changer to enable reconfiguration based on the specific process needs. The end-effector designs have achieved a balance between the variability of tools, to overcome the constraints induced by multiple shapes, geometries, and sizes of the parts.
The lamination CAM software makes the process more agile, generating the trajectories performed by the robot on the base of the parts 3D CAD models and the selected tools; the CAM tool will allow expert operators to adjust the generated trajectories based on their experience and to select the best-suited tool for each step of the lamination with an intuitive user interface (HMI).
The HMI also allows a simple reprogramming of the robot for new parts, making the process more agile and significantly reducing the time needed to reconfigure the system.
Sectors of application
Large manufacturer of CFRP components can also potentially benefit from CANNIER. They add to the benefits that CANNIER brings to small manufacturers of prepreg carbon-fibre-reinforced polymers the potential for bigger margins due to economies of scale. The production of bigger batches could enhance the productivity of CANNIER and incentivize the development of more lamination tools for our solution.
- Collaborative 6 DOF arm
- Lamination tools
Lamination CAD designer: software for generating the lamination trajectories. A program executing these trajectories with the selected laminaiton tools is sent to the robot arm
This application was developed thanks to the TRINITY-network of multidisciplinary and synergistic local digital innovation hubs (DIHs) composed of research centers, companies, and university groups that cover a wide range of topics that can contribute to agile production: advanced robotics as the driving force and digital tools, data privacy and cyber security technologies to support the introduction of advanced robotic systems in the production processes.
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The main DIGITALIS partners involved :