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Digital Twins

In this week’s article, we will be talking about the tape laying machine of Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH and how its digital twins helps reduce resources and energy. We talked about its basic functionality in the first article , now we will look at what the Digital Twin of the tape laying machine looks like inside the CAM software CAESA® Composites TapeStation . © SWMS Systemtechnik Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH Figure 1: A screen capture of a layup process using NMBs tape laying machine as simulated by the TapeStation. On the left-hand side, a 3D model of the tape-laying machine is displayed. [...]

Variable Cutting Angles

This week’s article will be about a very specialized functionality for AFP processes that is used to reduce material waste, aka “offcut” . Instead of cutting the material tapes into rectangular pieces, an angled cut is realized by rotatable cutting units . Depending on the ply angle and underlying contour, an algorithm determines the shape of the tape in such a way that they cover parts of the laminate contour more effectively, meaning that the offcut of each respective tape is minimized. There is however one constraint to this approach. Since the material is fed from a continuous supply of [...]

Advanced Pick and Place Processes

In the next 3 articles, we will showcase a research project that ran until October 2020. “OptiTape” focused on creating a digital twin of Neue Materialien Bayreuth's (NMB) tape laying machine (figure 1). The digital twin is a digital replicate of the real tape laying machine that is used to numerically optimize the structure of the laminates that will then be manufactured on the real machine. In the title image, you can see the real machine and the digital twin side-by-side. One of the main project goals was the implementation of an algorithm that holistically optimizes the production cost of [...]


With the last article about post-processing, we reached the end of the first segment of this series about #AFP and #CFRP. We introduced to you the very basics of the CFRP manufacturing components – what carbon fiber reinforced plastics are, how a layup tool works, and what benefits and restrictions their design has on laminates. We have furthermore given insight into different optimization methods and how a laminate is evaluated based on its material usage, manufacturing duration, and total cost. We also showed you how CAM software visualizes layup paths and simulates the machine during the layup process . Post-processing [...]


What exactly is post-processing? Post-processing marks the final step of laminate programming. A post-processor takes the digital manufacturing information and transfers these into machine code , which the manufacturing machine can then run in order to manufacture the laminate. Depending on the manufacturing system, the post-processor may utilize different, control-system-specific functions and instructions that are implemented on the machine. Since the software components of the control system can be configured and extended, different interfaces and functions are available for different setups. A good post-processor will utilize all these highly specific functionalities to optimize the layup program for the control system. [...]

Spectating layup processes: The Simulation

Simulating manufacturing processes enhances productivity by extending the tool chain by offline capabilities that otherwise would require a lot of experimentation and testing on the live machine system. By giving the CAM programmer the possibility to verify that the machine is moving correctly , that the laminate is placed in the right position , that the axes are within their limits and that no collisions are detected , the actual time to check for these on the real system is greatly reduced. This however requires a perfect match between the real system and the digital twin. The following questions may [...]

Process Settings 2

In this article, we will highlight pressures , forces , and temperatures . The previous article already hinted at other parameters and how they can be used to control different scenarios when manufacturing. If you are new to this series, we recommend starting with the article about end-effectors – the layup tools used to place CFRP material. From there on, you can easily catch up. The control of internal valves (e.g., for feeding and cutting the material) in most cases happens in integrated programs of the layup tool. Controlling the pressure for material clamping, feeding, and cutting are usually determined [...]

Process Settings

Last time, we introduced four types of parameters necessary for most automated CFRP manufacturing processes. Feeds, distances, pressures, and temperatures are essential parts of every layup operation. See here which types exist, and which function they fulfill. In this article, we will highlight the most important parameters of the types of feeds and distances . The last article already hinted at some parameters and how they can be used to control different scenarios when manufacturing. If you are new to this series, we recommend starting with the article about end-effectors – the layup tools used to place CFRP material. From [...]

Layup Paths

The movement patterns of the machine or robot system can be modified by the user. Various parameters control how and where the layup head is supposed to move during the manufacturing process. In figure 1, the feeds (velocity of the layup head) and distances can be seen. A yellow circle denotes a trigger point, that switches to another feed, pressure, or temperature. There are different types of parameters: Feeds: The velocity of the layup head. Distances: The (horizontal or vertical) distance between trigger points. Pressures Certain components of the layup head, like the feeding unit, require a nominal pressure that [...]