REFORM is investigating two main eco-friendly processes, laser assisted
thermoplastic tape-laying systems and augmented
reality for ply positioning.
Fraunhofer IPT are developing a Thermoplastic laser-assisted system for laying and consolidating thermoset and prepreg material. This allows the material to be cured during the layup process and means that expensive, time-consuming and energy-hungry ovens are not needed. This system can halve the energy needed to make thermoset parts.
REFORM is developing a system to control the laser and to use the best parameters to consolidate the part.
Several smaller test-parts have been defined with input from end-users to allow us to demonstrate the advantages in a number of industrial applications. Fraunhofer-IPT are currently making simplified flat-plates (layup) and cylinders (winding) to optimise the process parameters and to investigate the resultant material properties.
Fraunhofer-IPT is trialling this process with part of the TEKS spoiler. This structure is currently manufactured out of Aluminium-Alloy, but TEKS would like to make it from composite and tape layup seems to be a suitable process. The tape will be laid so that the fibre orientations meet the load requirements of the part, minimising composite use in areas where reinforcement is not required. A trial piece has been produced and is undergoing testing at TEKS facilities.
AMRC at the University of Sheffield are developing an augmented reality system which can be used during manual ply layup to reduce errors, leading to higher quality parts and a lower scrap rate. The system is being developed using standard components and will be a low-cost option to encourage as many companies as possible to use it. This system could use a variety of solutions including edge recognition, the use of fiducial markers or shape recognition for ply placement.
Various environmental and methodological constraints, including lighting and access considerations and the portability of the solution have been taken into account in the development of the solution and the test laboratory. It will be possible to use the developed solution on tablets and phones as well as in a more specialised workbench environment.