Axiomatic Design of Novel Fibre Placement Machines with Defect-free Fibre Steering Capability

Byung Chul Kim, Evangelos Zympeloudis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


The automated fibre placement (AFP) process is a cutting-edge technology to manufacture complex composite aerospace structures since it was first developed in the early 1980s [1]. However, in spite of increasing demands from the aerospace industry, the process-induced defects in tow steering process, such as local fibre wrinkling, tow gaps and fibre discontinuities, are major problems that need to be solved so as to guarantee the structural reliability [2, 3]. The defects described above are inevitably produced because of the defect of the process itself in terms of design.
While the shapes of composite parts remained simple and large, the early AFP machines functioned properly. However, as the geometric complexity of target components has increased over the last few decades, new functional requirements such as steering capability and defect minimisation were added without modifying the conventional mechanism, which led to make the conventional AFP machine design become a coupled design. For this reason, all existing AFP machines inevitably produce fibre wrinkles in steering process.
In order to make a breakthrough, a novel fibre placement technique, Continuous Tow Shearing (CTS), was developed based on Axiomatic Design approach. A mechanism shearing the tow material continuously could steer the tow trajectory without causing the fibre buckling. This design modification created a decoupled design, which provided composite designers with an exceptionally broad design space.
Two prototypes for single and multiple tow shearing heads, which pursue quality and productivity in tow steering respectively, were developed as shown in Fig. 1 [4-6]. In this paper, how Axiomatic Design principle contributed to the innovation in automated composites manufacturing was discussed, and the manufacturing characteristics of both machines were presented.

1. Lukaszewicz DHJA, Ward C, Potter K. The engineering aspects of automated prepreg layup: History, present and future. Compos Part B 2011;43:997-1009.
2. Kim BC, Hazra K, Weaver PM, Potter K. Limitations of fibre placement techniques for variable angle tow composites and their process-induced defects. In: Proceedings of ICCM-18 conference, Jeju, KR; 2011.
3. Tatting BF, Gürdal Z. Automated finite element analysis of elastically-tailored plates. NASA contractor report no. NASA/CR-2003-212679; 2003.
4. Kim BC, Potter K, Weaver PM. Continuous tow shearing for manufacturing variable angle tow composites. Compos Part A: Appl Sci Manuf 2012;43:1347-56.
5. Kim BC, Weaver PM, Potter K. Manufacturing characteristics of the continuous tow shearing method for manufacturing of variable angle tow composites. Compos Part A: Appl Sci Manuf 2014;61:141-51.
6. Kim BC, Potter K, Weaver PM. Multi-tow shearing mechanism for high-speed manufacturing of variable angle tow composites. In Proceedings of ECCM-15 Conference, Venice, IT:2012.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Manufacturing of Advanced Composites 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Composites Institute ACCIS


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