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NIAR USA expands portfolio with Cevotec's SAMBA Pro Prepreg system

28 Feb '22
3 min read
Pic: Cevotec
Pic: Cevotec

The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University (WSU) has announced that the institute has expanded its portfolio of future composites production technologies with Cevotec’s SAMBA Pro Prepreg system. As the first Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) system on US soil, it strengthens NIAR’s 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 US customers and interested parties, Cevotec said in a press release.

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 Defence 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.

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 aerial weight of up to 300 gsm can be cut out of the fibre tape. Featured with an advanced material cooling, the SAMBA system can process a wide variety of carbon fibres, glass fibres and other technical materials, both in dry fibre 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.

“With the addition of SAMBA system, we can now automate manufacturing of composite parts that were geometrically too complex for automation while precisely controlling fibre orientations for optimising part design. We are currently designing several demonstrator parts and certification protocols for showcasing the benefits of FPP for complex aerostructures,” Atlas director, Waruna Seneviratne, said in a statement.

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

“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,” John Melilli, president and CEO of Composite Automation, said.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (GK)

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