A Holistic Investigation of Automated Fibre Placement’s Effect on Composite Laminate Thickness

  • Ashley Barnes

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisEngineering Doctorate (EngD)

Abstract

Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) is an additive manufacturing process that deposits multiple composite material tapes in an automated manner onto a tool. It is a pivotal operation step in composite laminate production that has potential for growth within industry. As a result, AFP is an important topic of process development to ensure its maturity and continued adoption in more complex applications.
The thesis is an investigation into the influence AFP has on uncured and cured laminate thickness. At the start of the project and in the context of the thesis, the manufacturing process mechanisms that are thought to have an effect on laminate thickness were not understood or controlled to the required level. With this, the project aims to enable the ability to improve dimensional quality control by the development of AFP design and manufacturing methods for complex shaped laminate manufacture.
The primary topics covered are design for AFP, machine performance sustainment, baseline process parameter tolerance expectations and use of in-situ deposition inspection. Key inputs and outputs of the AFP process were characterised, inclusive of design, material, machine, manufacture and inspection. As a result of delivering an industrial level of insight, opportunities for the AFP method of manufacture as a whole have been presented based on key findings. Composite laminate thickness variation manufactured using AFP was found to stem from a number of key sources, both variable, and systematic in nature. The most important was found to be local variation of material gaps and overlaps. In the presented studies, using flat and complex shaped laminate samples, sources of error were identified and quantified to set a baseline tolerance expectation. The collected data was then assimilated to yield novel proposals that were developed to improve process control. The most important was to design for a zonal cure ply thickness.
Date of Award14 Nov 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorKevin Potter (Supervisor)

Cite this

A Holistic Investigation of Automated Fibre Placement’s Effect on Composite Laminate Thickness
Barnes, A. (Author). 14 Nov 2017

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisEngineering Doctorate (EngD)