“With the fully automated preforming of such a complex shaped part as an aircraft window funnel, we really achieved a milestone in Fibre Patch Placement technology,” commented Thorsten Groene, CEO of Munich based Cevotec. The 16 x 20 x 6inch part was a challenge even for the Fibre Patch Placement specialists.
“Such a biaxially curved and annularly closed preform with a constant radial and circumferentially oriented fibre architecture cannot be produced integrally with any other production technology. Especially processing textile fabrics turns out quite impossible,” explained Felix Michl, CTO of Cevotec.
Fibre Patch Placement is basically the only technology able to continuously deposit fibres directly onto the final component contour without further remodelling or forming, thereby saving process steps and avoiding unwanted draping effects during the deposition process.
“Due to the patched structure of the funnel, the wall thickness is largely kept constant and the material exploitation is constantly high. The funnel is thus more than 50% lighter than a typical injection-moulded component, which saves material and also weight, which is especially valuable in aerospace applications.”
The Cevotec Fibre Patch Placement production system SAMBA performs the production of the complex component. With the help of two robots, the directional fibre patches are placed on a moulding tool.
“Core element for the automation is the form-adaptive Cevotec gripper, which can passively adapt itself to the complex shape of the preform and place the patches exactly at the calculated position, currently, with at a speed of 1 patch per second,” explains Michl. "Of crucial importance for efficient laminate planning and robot programming is the software,” added Dr Neven Majic, Cevotec's executive VP Software Technology. The powerful algorithms of Cevotec's CAD-CAM software ARTIST STUDIO calculate the optimal position and overlap of the patches, which are basic prerequisites for uniformly high laminate quality.
Visitors to the Airshow will have the chance to take a look at the prototype of the window funnel on Monday, June 19, at the Paris Air Lab in the Concorde Hall (booth S09) and on June 20 at the ESA Pavilion. Cevotec will also exhibit an aircraft pressure cap. Its concave and convex surface, with 90° angles and narrow radii, is another example for a part that can be manufactured additively and without additional forming steps only with Fibre Patch Placement technology.
“The production with flexible patches expands the range of suitable lightweight parts in aerospace,” concluded Groene.