Our in-situ (on-the-fly) Thermoplastic Fiber-Placement is a world-leading additive manufacturing technology. We offer Out Of Autoclave (OOA) manufacturing with no secondary processing.
Thermoplastics are melt-processable plastics. When a thermoplastic polymer is heated above its melt point, the plastic softens enough to be consolidated. When the heat source is removed and the temperature drops below the plastic’s melt point, it freezes, or solidifies. This process can be repeated, allowing parts to be created one layer at a time. Complex geometries can be formed with thermoplastics without the need for secondary processing, such as curing in an autoclave.
Compared with traditional metal materials, neat (unreinforced) plastics, and even thermoset composites, fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites:
As an additive layering process, the use of thermoplastic composites can trim significant time and expense during design, prototyping, and manufacturing. Thermoplastics are recyclable and repairable, which cuts down on waste, and their ability to bond to differing materials enables the creation of hybrid structures.
Our in-situ and pre-forming thermoplastic processes utilize continuous-fiber tapes to take advantage of our Fiber Placement technologies. The tape sizes can vary depending on the needs of the application with widths reaching as wide as two inches (50.80 mm), but we consider this to be narrow for Tape Laying purposes. Our ability to use several small tapes allows for the creation of complex shapes through an additive manufacturing process.
Automated Dynamics builds multi-0.250-inch (6.35 mm) tape head systems for both in-situ consolidation and pre-forming applications. We have both single cut and individual tow control capabilities. Our machines are custom-built for your needs and feature modular head technologies, modular sub-assemblies for convenience of cleaning and change-out, and are supported by our easy-to-use software.
Further details of the specific processes and advantages can be viewed by visiting our Resources section. We have Articles, FAQ’s, and Technical Papers available through request.