Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

Period of Performance: 09/30/2016 - 09/29/2018


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Flightware, Inc.
829 Podunk Road Array
Guilford, CT 06437
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


Real-time Automated Ply Inspection (RTAPI) is a layup inspection system that determines if the layup produced by an Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) machine meets drawing requirements. This is performed in real-time, while the machine is laying composite tapes onto the mold at very high speed, and provides several benefits. The fully automated system eliminates very slow and tedious manual inspection performed currently. RTAPI provides greatly reduced cycle and improved productivity by eliminating secondary inspection (when the AFP machine sits idle). It also creates a digital record (thread) how the part was made, which doesnt exist today. Flightware has leveraged earlier work to develop Automated Ply Inspection (API) using a laser sensor, robot and software performed for NASA an automated, yet still secondary, step in part production. RTAPI, with key elements developed and demonstrated in Phase I, is focused on very fast, real-time operation with an AFP head-mounted sensor. Flightware is teamed with Fives, a leading supplier of large AFP equipment, to demonstrate RTAPI on a Viper machine. In addition the F-35 program and Northrop Grumman have agreed to participate in Phase II because RTAPI can provide significant benefits on the F-35 Inlet made by AFP in Northrops El Segundo plant.