The Problem:

The amount of capital equipment that is required for modern composite airframe production is untenable for future aircraft programs.

The Solution AFP4.0:

AFP 4.0 offers a pathway to getting 4-8x the throughput with the same capital investment used in past programs. Primarily this is done by taking actions and developing technology that will drastically increase the utilization of our AFP equipment. It does this by:

  • Reducing manual intervention, rework, and inspection overhead – these items destroy utilization
  • Speeding up the lamination process
  • Improving the quality of the laminations

Lower capital investment:

  • Increase in productivity by up to 8x (reducing AFP system count by the same factor)
  • Much smaller factory footprint
  • Fewer lamination tools are required (reduced because less parts in process means less tools required, same factor as AFP systems)

Lower Recurring Costs:

  • More productivity per employee
  • Lower utility consumption (clean rooms require significant HVAC to operate, less footprint means lower energy consumption)

Quality: Near perfect quality. The laminations produced on AFP4.0 systems will pass current quality standards 99+% without any manual intervention.

Reliability: Less than one process error per maintenance interval. A single maintenance interval on average contains about 10,000-14,000 tows on a 16 lane AFP head. MSBF > 10,000.

Performance: Actual lamination time reductions by a factor of 2. Initial add at 4,000"/min, re-feed at 3,000”/min, traverse 4,000"/min, cut 3,000"/min on a 16 lane AFP head.

Utilization: Listed last, but by far the most important contributor to production gains. We are able to demonstrate utilization gains of 3x – 6x depending on the part type.

The Technology Triad Supporting AFP4.0:

Variable Spot Size Laser Heater

Process head improvements include VSSL, ServoCreel and RUC as seen in the following video enhance quality, reliability and performance

Performance Enhancement Kit

Planned Maintenance replaces the reactive maintenance of past systems greatly increasing both quality and reliability

Inspection Loop

Automatic and nearly instantaneous auto inspection helps us make fantastic gains in Utilization and over all cell productivity

Putting it all together, AFP4.0 looks like this