Adaptive Feeding Roller with An Integrated Cutting System for Automated Fiber Placement (AFP)
Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) has been used for more than 30 years as a manufacturing process for large components such as aircraft fuselage or nose made of composite materials. As the literature research showed, 85% of efficient AFP head process time is used for the cutting process, accelerating, decelerating and necessary directional changes of the AFP head. The AFP head consists of various modules that synchronize the complete process. In recent years, scientists tried to extend the advantages of this technique and optimize the process. The aim of this article is to show the integration of the cutting unit and the feeding unit in a compact and simple system. Therefore the cutting edge of the tape and the productivity can be increased significantly. The feeding system pulls the tape from the material spool to under the compaction roller. Obviously, the tape should also cut to a predefined length. According to the state of the art, the cutting unit works when the feeding unit is in the standing position. The layup process has therefore a short break, which is no longer required with the new approach. The cutting process is realized without interruption, therefore the lost time during cutting can be saved. The integrated unit is synchronized with the AFP process to apply the active or passive feeding process.