Laser Heating System Introduced at University Of Sheffield


Laser Heating System Introduced at University Of Sheffield

Automated Dynamics is continuing its work with the UK’s University Of Sheffield and their Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). A strong relationship has formed over the years between Automated Dynamics and AMRC as they work to provide state-of-the-art composite manufacturing equipment and expertise for the university’s focus on research and development. Pioneers in Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) technology, Automated Dynamics has now implemented a Laser-Based Heating System (LHS) at AMRC for use in thermoplastic composite production.

AMRC, a world leader in engineering research, works alongside many business and industry experts to ensure development of the latest manufacturing technologies. They pride themselves on being at the forefront of new advancements, and composites are one of the world’s most exciting manufacturing areas to experience growth. Their mission is, “To create centres of excellence that focus on making significant difference to the Advanced Manufacturing sector by:

  • Maintaining a world class community where research, design, manufacture and study interact effectively to put technology into practice.
  • Having a manufacturing capability for showcasing best practice, tools and techniques associated with metals forming.
  • Being a global centre for the benchmarking of tools and techniques for aerospace manufacturing.
  • Developing knowledge-based simulation tools and techniques.
  • Incubating and spinning out technology to raise the performance of both local and national manufacturing companies.
  • Developing vocational engineering student programmes.”

Advancing Composites
Automated Dynamics’ Laser Heating System is an exciting addition to the world of composite manufacturing, and it offers yet another way for researchers and educational bodies to explore an emerging technology and the associated advantages. Current hot gas heating methods have been used for automated fiber placement of thermoplastic composites, but can come with relatively slow processing rates and increased expense. Alternately, laser heating provides higher energy density and more uniform heating for faster processing rates, higher bond strength and superior surface finish. Improved process control is achieved through closed loop control of the bond zone temperature in real time. This is possible due to the millisecond response time of the LHS compared to the hot gas torch (HGT) response time of minutes. Overall, these changes translate to a 30% savings in production time and a corresponding decrease in manufacturing costs.

Enabling companies to explore these methods allows for experimentation and prototyping with relatively low upfront investment, as opposed to purchasing and implementing new systems independently. In addition, testing the feasibility of new parts and processes encourages growth, innovation, and expansion. Most importantly, though, it provides the next generation of engineers and manufacturers exposure to the types of processes and technologies that will advance the composites industry.

Through the continued relationship with AMRC and consistent efforts to improve processes surrounding composite structure production, Automated Dynamics has positioned itself to advance the field of composites as their popularity grows in response to the demand for stronger and lighter-weight materials. Their unique equipment and cutting-edge manufacturing technology enable Automated Dynamics to consistently challenge the frontiers of composite structures and lead in the push for truly automated production of composite structures.

For over 30 years, Automated Dynamics has been a global leader in automated composite production. We specialize in the manufacturing of high-performance composite structures, development of advanced automation equipment, and solution-based engineering services. Through the use of a true out-of-autoclave (OoA) process, we bring additive manufacturing to continuous-fiber thermoplastic composite parts; saving weight and improving reliability in today’s most demanding engineering environments. We offer patented Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) technologies, and, as recognized innovators, we have produced hundreds of thousands of composite parts for over 500 clients in 17 countries.