SBIR Phase I: Highly Tailored Automated Laminate Production for Advanced Composite Infusions.

Period of Performance: 07/01/2016 - 06/30/2017

$225K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Green Dynamics Inc.
29 Cedarwood Rd.
Cotuit, MA 02635
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR Phase I project will develop an automated composite lamination kitting and stitching machine. This demonstration machine will be capable of placing, cutting and securing 6 layers of dry composite material in parallel. The parallel nature of the process greatly improves manufacturing time, while the reel-to-reel capable layout of the machine allows for manufacturing of long continuous laminates using a comparatively small machine footprint. The key technical hurdles will be software control and mechanical management of multiple parallel plies. During this research project Green Dynamics will demonstrate the proposed machine control proposal and mechanical system layout, which allows multiple plies to spool in parallel and be cut on individual gantries simultaneously. The Green Dynamics lamination kitting and stitching machine will demonstrate the labor and cost savings that can be achieved through automated manufacturing of a single piece laminate. These savings will enable the continued reduction in cost for composite materials, and spur their growth into new markets. Decreasing the cost and improving the quality of composite structures such as wind turbine blades and automotive components is a key path to lower carbon emissions. The proposed manufacturing machine handles multiple fabric rolls in parallel and uses proprietary control algorithms and fabric handling methods to cut and secure up to 6 layers of material simultaneously. As individual layers are processed independently the resulting laminate stack is highly tailored and places material only where it is needed. The final product is transportable, and for very long length parts, can be rolled up to minimize transport size. At the manufacturing location this laminate is placed in the tool in a single step, which greatly reduces the time to manufacture the part and the process time in the tool. No other composite automation machine can provide a single piece lamination which is tailored in multiple directions. The resulting laminate effectively uses the orthotropic properties of composite materials to achieve lower weights while enabling much lower touch labor rates. The multi-roll, linear orientation of our machine allows for reel to reel processing of long narrow laminates in a small machine footprint, and results in a rolled, transportable laminate.