Automated Fiber Placement (AFP)
AFP is one of the most advanced methods for fabricating composite structures. This method is used almost exclusively with continuous fiber reinforced tape and can be used with thermoset and thermoplastic materials. As an Additive Manufacturing process, our robotic AFP systems place composite material and build a structure one ply at a time. This method allows the fabrication of highly customized parts as each ply can be placed at different angles to best carry the required loads.
Automated Tape Laying (ATL)
ATL utilizes a single, wide, unidirectionally reinforced, slit tape to layup simple, gentle contours or flat parts. This is typically the case within Trelleborg Sealing Solutions as well, but we have taken some liberties with the definition when it improves the Customer’s automation solution.
Stamping is best suited for relatively thin and flat thermoplastic structures. A material preform is heated offline and then quickly transferred into a stamping tool. Here the preform is rapidly molded into the desired shape and removed from the tooling. The stamping process is often completed within seconds.
Composite lay-ups are prepared and loaded into the autoclave. Pressure is increased to consolidate plies and the temperature is increased until the composite material melts (thermoplastic) or cures (thermoset) and is formed into the desired shape. This process is frequently used to consolidate preforms.
A fiber-reinforced composite is placed inside a mold that is situated in a press. Here the composite and the tool are heated together, held at temperature and pressure throughout the process cycle and cooled together. Once the part is cooled below its Tg (glass transition temperature), it can be removed from the tool. Although this process has significantly longer cycle times than stamping, it is more ideally suited for thicker or more complexly shaped parts.