This 100 page technical publication provides a global overview of the state of automation in reinforcement based polymer matrix composite manufacturing processes in existence already, cognisant of the fact that there is a huge amount of ongoing research and process development work, with more being funded. This publication provides a comprehensive introductory overview into automation and an understanding of how the increasing use and further developments in this area will enable significantly greater penetration of composites in key manufacturing sectors.
The significant ongoing investment in developing new automated manufacturing processes of composite components is being largely driven by the needs of the aerospace, wind energy and automotive industries needing to find alternative material solutions to manufacture larger, lighter and more environmentally friendly products in response to social and legislative global pressures. Composite materials, particularly using carbon fibres, are increasingly being used, replacing more traditional materials such as steel and aluminium, to reduce the overall weight of end use products.
Automation is a very broad field which has many elements ranging from the hardware, the software and overall integration of process steps. A brief overview of the key elements of automation is included in order to see the range of tools and capabilities available to composites manufacturers, depending on specific production needs.
A description of the main automated open and closed mould composites manufacturing processes that have already been developed that provide reproducible build quality and higher productivity forms the central core of this book. Both thermoset and thermoplastics based composite materials are covered. Other secondary processes either before or at the post moulding stage are also briefly covered.
Key topic areas covered in this publication include:
• An overview of automation
• Market growth and drivers for automation by key industry sector
• Intermediate forms of reinforcements and preforms, and semi-finished composites (thermoset and thermoplastic)
• Composite moulding processes (open and closed) and degree of current automation ( includes fibre placement, pultrusion, filament winding, flat panel production, centrifugal casting and one shot pressing)
• Automation of post mould operations
• Recent developments and future developments in automation
About the Author: Andrew Mafeld is an independent business consultant and specialist in industrial materials. He has more than thirty years’ experience in the global composites industry covering the carbon, glass and natural fibre sectors, as well as the associated end use industries including automotive, aerospace, construction, industrial, sports & leisure, defence, oil & gas, power generation and many other sectors which use composite materials.
Publication date: March 2010