Original Date: 10/14/1988
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Automated Composites Fabrication
Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. (BHTI) is advancing automated composite fabrication through the development and implementation of automated tape laying for the upper and lower wing skins of the V-22 aircraft. BHTI uses a 10-axis Ingersoll tape laying machine (TLM) which has up to a +30 degree laydown angle capable of laying 3", 3-1/2" and 6" unidirectional tape at a rate of up to 1200 inches per minute. TLM has an operating envelope of 50' x 12' x 4'.
Natural Path Programming (NPP) is used to determine ply location and orientation of each ply layer. NPP also adjusts for excessive gaps and butts. Once part programming is complete, part programming data is converted to machine code and sent to an Allen Bradley 8200 cell controller which synchronizes machine movements.
Tape is laid directly on the part tool. Tape backing paper is used to carry the tape to the laydown head. Two three-inch diameter rotary carbide cutters enable one to three separate cuts at either end of a ply prior to laydown. The cutters have a minimum cutting angle of four degrees from the center line. Zero-degree cuts are possible in order to slit the tape. The cutting depth is critical, and must be adjusted for tape thickness and temperature.
The tape laying head compacts each ply at laydown through the use of twelve ½" wide segmented rollers which are controlled independently. Compaction pressure is adjustable from 170 to 370 psi.
The benefits of this system include lap and gap control, improved repeatability and accuracy, improved quality, reduced material waste, and reduced direct labor associated with the laydown process.
BHTI has completed enhancements to TLM to extend the machine's capabilities. These include increasing the lay-up rate with a new controller which reduces head turnaround time after each ply is laid, provides tool surface digitizing, provides look-ahead look-behind foreign object detection, and improves the tape cutter and tape guidance system.
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