Enabling Automation of Composite Manufacturing through the Use of Off-The-Shelf Solutions

Sammanfattning: Composite materials offer an appealing combination of low weight and high strength that is especially sought after in high-performance applications. The use of composite materials has and is continuing to increase, and the use of the material has been shown to provide substantial weight savings in for example aircraft design. With an increased use of composite materials follows an increased demand for cost-efficient manufacturing methods.Composite products are in many cases manufactured either by manual operations or by the use of complex automated solutions associated with high investment costs. The objective for this research is to explore an approach to develop automated composite manufacturing based on commercially available off-the-shelf solutions as an alternative to the existing automated solutions for composite manufacturing.The research, which was carried out in collaboration with industrial partners within the aerospace sector, is based on a demonstrator-centered research approach. Three conceptual demonstrators, focusing on three different manufacturing methods and a number of physical demonstrators, are used to show that off-the-shelf solutions can be used for automated manufacturing of composite products.Two aspects that affect if it is possible to use off-the-shelf solutions for automated composite manufacturing are the rigorous quality standards used by the aerospace industry and the great variety in product properties and material properties that is associated with composite manufacturing.The advantages in using off-the-shelf solutions has shown to be that the solutions generally are associated with low investments and that published information about the solutions, and the solutions themselves, is generally available for evaluation and testing. When working with the demonstrators it has been shown to be useful to break down a manufacturing system into basic tasks and consider off-the-shelf solutions for each particular task. This approach facilitates the search for a suitable off-the-shelf solution to solve a particular task. However, each of the separate tasks can affect other areas of the manufacturing system, and an overall systems perspective is required to find solutions that are compatible with the entire manufacturing system.