SMEs composite manufacturing parts can now afford robotization and process automation!

SMEs composite manufacturing parts can now afford robotization and process automation!

beSpline (IND Group), Texonic and The Composites Development Center of Quebec (CDCQ) joined forces to democratize AFP robotization process!

The Automated Fibre Placement is an innovative robotized manufacturing process to create carbon or fibre glass composite materials.

Historically, this robotization process was accessible to large aerospace companies. Available technology was worth more than 1 million dollars. For the SMEs, the only option was, until this day, a manual confection by specialized manpower.

To make the robotics more accessible to SMEs, beSpline, Texonic and the CDCQ pondered these three aspects.

  • The lower cost of robotic stations
  • A local supply chain of composite reinforcing materials at better prices
  • Offering integration expertise to companies

Robotized automated fibre placement for composite stations are now affordable for the SMEs

beSpline specializes in providing services for the composite material parts. Since 2018, the enterprise has developed a robotic cell in which a new placement head technology designed by Addcomposites is integrated. The lighter weight allows the use of smaller and less expensive robots. Making this possible to sell and integrate robotized solutions to the SMEs for an amount of 300k$.

A local supply chain of composite materials for the AFP, a cost-effective solution for the industrials

The aerospace sector is using pre-impregnated reinforcing textiles for the AFP and gets its supplies internationally. An approach that Quebec SMEs composite part industry desire to avoid.

Texonic, beSpline and the CDCQ acknowledged the need and successfully completed an R&D project and offer an innovative and local reinforcement materials supply chain.

During the R&D period, partners focused on two key elements in order to succeed

  • The incorporation of a fibre placement head technology created by Addcomposites that integrates a different heating technology enables the use of dry reinforcement strips.
  • The design of a one-of-a-king dry reinforcement manufacturing process. An expertise allowing the weaving of material on wide looms and the cutting of narrow strips mounted on coils. This innovative manufacturing technique offers an affordable reinforcement material. This is perfectly suited for the manufacturing process of the preformed materials.

Integration of the chain to the smes; an important step

In order to have the proper integration of this chain through SMEs, a technology transfer phase is available. CDCQ is working with beSpline to offer the service. A pilot program is currently in operation. The desiring companies can be trained at the CDCQ (read CDCQs publication).

A bright future for the Canadian AFP chain

The “Automated Fibre Placement” has a promising future in Canada and North America. The chain is dedicated to the SMEs transportation, sports and leisure, and industrial manufacturing sectors. For the next few years, the North American market has the potential of 100–150 companies which equates 7.5 million dollars. The new supply chain brings solutions to the specialized labour shortage. Allowing the manufacturing of optimized parts in terms of costs, weight, performance, and also reducing by 35% compared to material waste related to manual manufacturing.

Great news that will make the market development prompt and ensure its continuity.

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