NIAR successfully commissioned Cevotec’s SAMBA Pro Prepreg system

The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University (WSU) expands its portfolio of future composites production technologies with Cevotec’s SAMBA Pro Prepreg system. As the first Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) system on U.S. soil, it strengthens NIAR’s leading position in aerospace and composites R&D. The system was commissioned mid-February 2022 at NIAR’s Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS). This is an important step in establishing FPP technology as an advanced composites manufacturing technology for aerospace components on an international level and creates new R&D opportunities for U.S. customers and interested parties.

NIAR successfully commissioned Cevotec’s SAMBA Pro Prepreg system

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With more than one million square feet of research and office space, NIAR provides research, design, testing, certification and training to the aerospace and manufacturing industries, FAA, Department of Defense and other government agencies. Cevotec’s SAMBA system expands the institute’s portfolio in the field of automated production technologies. Since FPP enables the fully automated lay-up of very complex-shaped parts and is compatible with a broad variety of materials, it is the perfect enhancement to existing robotic production equipment such as Advanced Fiber Placement and Automated Tape Laying systems at NIAR.

“With the addition of SAMBA system, we can now automate manufacturing of composite parts that were geometrically too complex for automation while precisely controlling fiber orientations for optimizing part design” said ATLAS Director Dr. Waruna Seneviratne. “We are currently designing several demonstrator parts and certification protocols for showcasing the benefits of FPP for complex aerostructures.”

The SAMBA system is equipped with two in-process inspections systems for quality assurance. The first system inspects the quality of every patch, rejecting the ones with defects, and the second system ensures the accuracy at the placement gripper prior to layup. One of the new features of the SAMBA Pro Prepreg system is the ultrasonic cutting unit. With the improved cutting performance, especially for prepreg material, various patch sizes of rectangular shape with an areal weight of up to 300 gsm can be cut out of the fiber tape. Featured with an advanced material cooling, the SAMBA system can process a wide variety of carbon fibers, glass fibers and other technical materials, both in dry fiber and prepreg configuration.

The SAMBA system operates with a large 6-axis tool manipulator and a fast 4-axis Scara placement robot with three different gripper sizes. Available in sizes from 45 mm x 90 mm up to 60 mm x 240 mm, the gripper adapts to highly complex surfaces. Patches can be placed across 90° angles and on biaxially curved surfaces without negative draping effects. Despite the high complexity of possible lay-up shapes, a high areal throughput of up to 9 m² / hour is achieved.

“Together with our U.S. partner Composite Automation, we are really proud to install a SAMBA Pro system at NIAR, the United States’ premier aviation research institute,” states Thorsten Groene, CEO and Co-founder at Cevotec. “It’s an important step to bring FPP technology to U.S.-based composite manufacturers, and we look forward to working with NIAR on further advancing the FPP process and applications.”

John Melilli, President and CEO of Composite Automation LCC, is convinced: “The disruptive and flexible FPP technology will help to drive aerospace composites development at the important Wichita site.” The new system at NIAR will open multiple options for interested manufacturers for the evaluation of FPP technology for their purposes, including new application and process development, integration with existing processes, prototyping, and testing.

Cevotec and Composite Automation will be present at the SAMPE conference and exhibition from May 23-26 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Interested parties can meet the team at booth S30 and discuss possible collaborations regarding the new SAMBA Pro Prepreg system at NIAR. In Europe, Cevotec and NIAR will also exhibit their solutions and services at the JEC World show from May 3-5 in Paris.

More information www.cevotec.com