Companies combine technologies for composites fabrication

  • 07-Jan-2010 04:37 EST
Compensation Plies Placed.jpg

PCS calculates the size and location of compensation plies.

Nikon Metrology and Magestic Systems Inc. have jointly introduced a fabrication solution for increasing production of right-first-time composite parts that harnesses the capabilities of the former's Laser Radar technology and the latter's Ply Compensation System (PCS).

The benefits of the methodology are twofold, according to the company. First, manufacturers can overcome the difficult engineering specifications set in place for composite parts; and second, they can achieve success with minimal waste.

Traditional production methods, which have become standards for steel and aluminum industrial production, do not suffice for serial production of composite parts. A variety of factors often prevents manufacturers from keeping geometric deviation within specification, whether it is the nature of combined composites’ substrate, resin, and reinforcement materials or the method by which the parts are molded. Low process repeatability generates lengthy manual rework and an intolerable number of bad components.

PCS takes parts that have been produced slightly outside of engineering tolerances and builds them up by single or multiple composite compensation ply layers into finished parts that satisfy all structural and engineering requirements.

The laser radar process starts with identifying those surface areas on composite parts that need compensation ply treatment. “Within a range of 60 m, the contactless Laser Radar system from Nikon Metrology [formerly Metris] captures the surface geometry of composite parts of any shape and size, without requiring SMR or other targets,” said Francky Demeester, Nikon Metrology Vice President of Business Development, Large-scale Metrology. “The Laser Radar is fully automatable and programmable, and measures nominal deviation very accurately, both in plane and surface vector intersection modes. PVI measurements have shown an order of magnitude improvement in accuracy over other single-point measurement systems, in particular on composite materials.”

Based on the Laser Radar’s geometry data and the resulting nominal deviation of the tool surface, PCS manages the definition and creation of multilayer compensation plies. After processing this critical step, MSI’s TruNEST builds nests of the necessary compensation plies and automatically cuts them out to be laid up. TruLASER View kits the compensation plies while still on the cutting table and projects the exact location of where on the deficient part they need to be placed, keeping all grain constraints in mind. Following this, the part is ready to be recured to obtain final geometry. The finished composite part is then measured again with Laser Radar for geometry deviation.

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Boeing and Airbus forecast a worldwide demand for up to 40,000 new aircraft over the next two decades. With a 10-year production backlog and new aircrafts increasingly counting on lightweight composites, manufacturing companies are developing advanced sandwich-structure composite solutions to fill the production gap.

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