SAMBA Pro FPP systems: 2022 updates and new features
In the last year, we further advanced our SAMBA Pro Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) systems and developed powerful new features. Besides an advanced material cooling and an ultrasonic cutting unit, it is now possible to configure a system with two 6-axis robots for pick & place and tool manipulation. Two aerospace customers already benefit from these new extensions: Beginning of this year we commissioned one SAMBA Pro system at the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) in the U.S. and one at aerospace manufacturer Leonardo in Italy. In this article, we present in detail the new features available to customers.
One of the first steps in the FPP process is to cut the fiber tape into patches, which was performed until now by laser cutting. Since last year, our customers have the possibility to choose between a laser or ultrasonic cutting unit equipped with a cutting head from GFM in Austria. While the laser is a very flexible cutting option in particular for dry-fiber tape, giving customer the option to customize cutting angles and cut curved patches, the ultrasonic unit is geared toward cutting various type of prepreg tape, up to 300 gsm, into rectangular shaped patches. Furthermore, prepreg processing is supported by an advanced material cooling, enabling the SAMBA systems to process a wide variety of prepregs with different matrix properties.
After cutting, the placement robot picks up the patches to place them on the mold fixed on a tool holder, for example a 6-axis robot. Besides a fast 4-axis Scara robot, it is now also possible to choose a 6-axis pick & place robot in combination with a 6-axis tool manipulator. The configuration with two 6-axis robots increases significantly the capabilities to process larger and even more complex part geometries without changing the shopfloor footprint. The gripper attached to the placement robot, available in sizes from 45 mm x 90 mm up to 60 mm x 240 mm, can place patches across 90° angles and on biaxially curved surfaces without negative draping effects. The 6-axis pick & place robot enables further extensions of the system with additional placement features such as the rolling motion placement. This capability increases the degrees of freedom for placing patches on challenging surface geometries, including honeycomb cores.
Like every FPP system, our SAMBA Pro systems are equipped with an advanced material and process monitoring ensuring that only 100% in-spec raw material is placed precisely on its intended position. The two in-process vision inspection systems for quality control check the geometrical accuracy of each patch as well as the position on the placement gripper.
Mid-February, a SAMBA Pro Prepreg system was commissioned at NIAR’s Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS) at Wichita State University (WSU). As the first FPP system on U.S. soil, it strengthens NIAR’s leading position in aerospace and composites R&D and expands the institute’s portfolio in the field of automated production technologies. The new system will open multiple options for interested, US-based manufacturers for the evaluation of FPP technology for their purposes, including new application and process development, integration with existing processes, prototyping, and testing.
Italy-based global aerospace, defense and security specialist Leonardo commissioned a SAMBA Pro Prepreg system beginning of March 2022. With the adoption of FPP to their portfolio of automation technologies for complex composite production, Leonardo expands its capabilities and strengthened its role as innovation leader in the field of composite aerostructures.
You want to know more about the new SAMBA features and would like to see our FPP system dancing and patching? Check out our new video:
Munich-based automation specialist Cevotec offers one of the world’s most advanced production systems for complex fiber composites. At the intersection of composites, mechanical engineering and software, Cevotec develops production systems and software based on Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) technology: SAMBA and ARTIST STUDIO. The production systems enable the automated lay-up of carbon fiber, glass fibers, adhesive films and other technical fibers on complex 3D geometries. Manufacturers use FPP technology to produce e.g. multi-material aerostructures, composite pressure vessel reinforcements, and other high-performance components in a quality-controlled, fully automated process, which enables them to realize cost & cycle time savings of 20%-60% when switching from conventional processes to Fiber Patch Placement.