Laser Assisted Tape Winding – The Future of Composite Manufacture

There is a filament winding machine in development that has the potential to replace current FRP (fibre reinforced plastic) production methods. It uses revolutionary laser technology to improve process control, from cradle to grave it looks set to produce fewer emissions than traditional machines, and there is far less waste in the manufacture of products on the machine.

Pultrex has been involved in a 3 year EU project to produce a machine capable of laser assisted tape winding for both continuous products such as pipes for the oil and gas industry, and discontinuous products such as tanks – something that no machine can currently do. Manufacturing on one machine rather than two alone makes it a more eco-friendly option for manufacturers, but the new laser technology is also ensuring that there are eco credentials when it comes to the products being manufactured too.

Here’s what you need to know:

Fibre Impregnated Tapes

FRP production uses composite tapes of set widths and a somewhat smooth surface finish. The new technology uses the fibre impregnated tapes but introduces an embossment which can be controlled by specialist software. This embossment, when combined with the revolutionary closed loop control software, provides a reliable method of tracking and monitoring process control.

Revolutionary Laser Technology

The lasers used in the new machines mean new things are possible. The lasers have a new design focusing system capable of ranges not currently possible, these will give the operator the power to vary tape widths from within the operating system instead of having to change components that focus on specific ranges. The lasers are also at the heart of the closed loop control system, which gives greater process control.

Closed Loop Control System

The infrared camera built into the laser feeds information such as temperatures back into the closed loop control system. This gives the operator all the information needed to control the machine effectively and efficiently from the control desk.

Less Waste From Product Manufacture

The laser and feedback technology improves the process control to such a degree that there is significantly less wastage, especially when you consider there is no longer any need to swap parts, or move manufacture to a different machine.

Lower Carbon Footprint

The EU ambliFibre project is a collaboration of 13 European organisations from academic and manufacturing sectors, with part of the project focusing on the carbon footprint for the entire machine lifecycle. Experts in the field are assessing everything from product sourcing to maintenance probability to calculating the eco-viability of the new technology. It is expected that a combination of factors will give the Laser Assisted Tape Winding Machine an eco thumbs up.

The Laser Assisted Tape Winding concept is currently in development, and will be presented to the EU in October 2018. In the meantime you can discover more about the Laser Assisted Tape Winding on the ambliFibre project website.

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