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To support the industry with the development of automated process chains for the production of textile performs and to investigate the most relevant aspects thereof, the Institute fr Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University has set up the ITA-preform centre.
The ITA-preform centre includes a cutting table and an industry robot to which various end-effectors can be adapted. The textile material, typically multiaxial non-crimp-fabrics or woven fabrics made from glass or carbon fibres, can be cut into a 2-dimensional shape on a CNC-cutting table. Once the fabric is cut, the subsequent steps like (e.g. handling, joining, and cutting) are performed with a six-axis-industry robot which has a nominal maximum load of 150 kg and is mounted head over on a stiff steel gantry. The working area of the robot is greatly enlarged by an additional linear axis and totals 7×4 meter. The different end-effectors can be automatically mounted on the robot with a pneumatic tool changer.
With a variety of gripping effectors, textiles can be picked up from the cutting table or any other storage. The joining of multiple layers of textiles can be realized by means of both stitching and binder technologies. At the ITA-Preformcentre almost all relevant one-sided stitching technologies are available with which 3-dimensional seams can be realized. Also, thermoplastic binder can be sprayed onto the textile using a hot melt-binder application device. The spraying nozzle can be mounted on the robot to create 3-dimensional binder patterns locally on the textile. To achieve precise cut selvedges of the near-net-shape textile preform, an ultrasonic cutting device can be coupled to the robot to perform 3-dimensional cuts. Different blades can be used to account for specific material properties.
At the JEC 2011, a newly developed effector was presented. Thermoplastic binder, which can be applied to the textile with the available spraying nozzle, is activated by means of a novel hot-air pressing technology.
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