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EPSRC CIMComp Research “Advanced Continuous Tow Shearing for Next Generation AFP Process”

27 May 2014

An EPSRC (CIMComp) project, led by Byung Chul Kim , University of Bristol, aims to give composite designers more design flexibility and guarantee composite manufacturers complex parts without defects using Advanced Continuous Tow Shearing.

Tow steering is essential laying up tow materials on a complex geometry, since fibre paths need to follow non-geodesic path on a 3D surface. Many researchers struggle to characterise the defects produced during steering process such as fibre buckling and resin pockets.

Advanced Continuous Tow Shearing (ACTS) will further advance the Continuous Tow Shearing (CTS) method, which was invented by challenging the conventional fundamentals of fibre placement. CTS shears the tow material rather than bending, to prevent buckling in the steering process. CTS has been found to minimise fibre buckling and reduce minimum steering radius.

The “Advanced Continuous Tow Shearing for Next Generation AFP Process” project was launched in June 2013 and is divided into two phases. The first is to design, manufacture and achieve reliable operation of the individual add-on devices which will attach to an industrial robot. The second phase will see the head attached to the robot controlled by a new algorithm and tested for manufacturing 3D geometries.

The project has successfully conducted conceptual design and testing of main add-on components and the project partners are currently working on their mechanical design and manufacture. Stand-alone tests will follow, testing the head module on a new Cartesian CNC platform.

Previous publications about this innovative new approach can be found in proceedings from the International Conference on Composite Materials, further publications on the ACTS will follow.

More information about this project, as well as others currently run by CIMComp is available at






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