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Automated handling system for fibre composites

News International-French

14 Feb 2011

BROETJE-Automation GmbH is introducing a high-end handling system for fibre composites. The Pick-&-Place system is capable of picking, positioning and placing high-tech textiles by means of a special vacuum technology.

he developers of the composite handling system had to comply with two major requirements, namely maximum fibre material protection and process stability during the handling process.


The composite handling system uses an exclusive PLC control system that includes many features that are currently unique to the market, such as energy efficiency, variability of workpiece geometry and lightweight design.


To meet demanding requirements for material protection and process stability, the company developed a special vacuum gripper with outstanding performance characteristics. These characteristics are the key to successful handling of highly sensitive textile materials.


Located in northwest Germany, BROETJE-Automation GmbH has nearly 300 employees. BROETJE serves the aerospace industry worldwide as an experienced turnkey supplier of automated systems. The company has developed technical solutions for the automation of FRP component manufacturing for approximately four years. It is also involved in research and development for numerous aerospace research programmes.


Main objectives

BROETJE-Automation’s development objectives included not only an energy-efficient design based on targeted low operating costs, but also system scalability, ranging from a small hand-held gripping system to a full-scale portal-positioner-guided gripping system. This is why the composite handling system offers direct, “low-loss” vacuum generation at the end-effector, contributing to high flexibility and mobility while retaining high efficiency.



A second key feature of the composite handling system is its ability to handle varying workpiece geometries. The system also has a freely configurable vacuum gripper arrangement so customized system equipment can be added. A user-friendly, PLC-integrated single vacuum gripper control provides for a nearly unlimited variety of geometries.


In addition to energy efficiency, an optimized lightweight design of the end effector is crucial to the scalability of the system. The use of aluminium and plastic components provides solutions for nearly all composite handling tasks — whether used manually or integrated into a fully-automated robot cell. The compact, weight-saving design offers numerous implementation options and an efficient yet powerful solution for automated FRP handling.