Fiber Placement

The laser-assisted automated fiber placement (AFP) process is a promising manufacturing technology for fiber reinforced thermoplastics. It enables highly tailored lay-ups in near-netshaped parts, while reducing the amount of manual labor.

Contact: Thijs Kok

TPRC
PhD student

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Objective

To improve the understanding of the Laser Assisted Fiber Placement process towards achieving in-situ consolidation of thermoplastic composites.

Keywords: consolidation, void content, crystallization, degradation, interlaminar bonding

Background/Introduction

Laser Assisted Fiber Placement (LAFP) is an additive manufacturing technique in which tape lay-down and consolidation take place simultaneously. The process is schematically illustrated in the figure below.

Laser Assisted Fiber Placement

A thermoplastic composite pre-impregnated tape is heated with a laser above its melting temperature. Subsequently, pressure is applied with a compaction roller to consolidate the tape with the previously laid-down plies. Provided the achieved consolidation quality is sufficient, the conventional post-consolidation step can be omitted thereby reducing manufacturing costs. Further advantages include the possibility to optimize product performance by ply tailoring or by applying local reinforcements.

Finally, production manufacturing waste is reduced since parts can be manufactured near net-shaped. To date, however, the consolidation quality achieved is not yet sufficient to allow widespread industrial use of this promising technology. A thorough understanding of the physical mechanisms governing the LAFP process is required in order to optimize the process and to improve the consolidation quality. Subsequently, process and material guidelines can be formulated based on the obtained knowledge.

Approach

A  combination of careful experimental work and (numerical) modeling is required to identify, isolate and investigate the physical mechanisms that play a role during the process. A LAFP robot from Coriolis Composites is available at the TPRC for this purpose. An attempt is made to understand the key mechanisms of the LAFP process, by varying the process settings, such as laser power and placement speed, measuring the temperature distribution and extensive post-manufacturing thermo-mechanical analysis. Physics-based models are developed to support the analysis and to work towards a predictive process modeling tool for the LAFP process.

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Contact

  • Interested in application of the developed knowledge? Please contact Sebastiaan Wijskamp.
  • Interested in the underlying scientific background? Please contact Thijs Kok.

Research overview