As composite structures grow larger and more complex, demand for methods of high-volume, high-precision layup has grown. Automated layup methods including automated fiber placement (AFP), automated tape layup (ATL), automated ply cutting, pick-and-place automated ply deposition, hot drape forming, and other such processes allow manufacturers to produce large composite laminates in less time than when done by hand, while reducing material waste and the risk of FOD.
Toray Composites Materials America, Inc. (CMA) prepreg materials are available in varied configurations for a wide variety of automated layup equipment. Prepreg formats designed for automated processing such as AFP and ATL have been optimized to minimize chances of fuzz and resin buildup, reducing machine downtime and increasing overall throughput. Our material formats have also been validated for post-layup follow-on processes, including hot drape forming.
We work with customers and equipment vendors to ensure compatibility between materials and equipment settings to improve part quality and process efficiency. Contact CMA Technical Services and Sales for information about material formats and processing compatibilities.
Automated Fiber Placement (AFP)
AFP deposits multiple, thin tows of slit unidirectional tape, usually between 1/8 and 1.5 inches wide. Thin tows allow for high steerability without risk of wrinkled prepreg, allowing for layup of complex geometries without requiring difficult ply cuts and arrangements.
Automated Tape Layup (ATL)
ATL lays down a single, wider strip of unidirectional or fabric prepreg, usually between 3 and 12 inches wide. ATL is best for quick layup of simple geometries, and is frequently used in applications such as skins or charges for forming processes.