Top 10 Advances In Composites Manufacturing Technology

Advanced Composites

Did you know that some manufacturing plants are conducting most of their processes with robotic arms?

Yes, the future is here.

Today, there is more exciting technology and innovation in the manufacturing industry than ever.

Robotics might be controversial, but the best manufacturers continue to adopt disruptive techniques.

Let’s talk about some of the manufacturing technology that is raising the bar in the industry.

Advances In Composites Manufacturing Technology

New manufacturing technology has the power to change the industry. They’re either creating new markets or reconstructing existing ones. Some of these techniques were unimaginable a decade ago.

1. Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is not yet mainstream, but it’s up and coming in the manufacturing industry.

Nanotechnology can assist manufacturers in enhancing materials by manipulating matter on an atomic, molecular, or supramolecular scale. This could mean making materials last longer or giving them new properties altogether.

We’re quite a few years away, but imagine a product component built up from the molecular level. Cool, huh?

2. Out-of-Autoclave (OOA) Curing

Out-of-Autoclave (OOA) curing is an interesting phenomenon. It’s gaining popularity because of its ability to create high-performance composite components.

This process reduces energy and toolmaking costs without the use of an autoclave. This allows them to improve cycle times and support considerable volumes.

OOA technology reduces costs without sacrificing quality.

3. Advanced Robotics

In recent years, manufacturing robots have become more versatile. They are intelligent and flexible. This helps producers deliver a product with speed and increasing volume.

The automated processes manned by robots increase production times. They also provide more precision, accuracy, and efficiency.

Two composites manufacturing methods rely on the use of robotics. These are automated tape laying (ATL) and automated fiber placement (AFP).

4. Automated Fiber Placement (AFP)

AFP is one of the more advanced methods for fabricating complex composite components.

By using a robot to place material, AFP builds a component one layer at a time. To create highly-customized parts, this process places layers at several different angles. The robotic placement head dispenses, cuts, clamps, and restarts individual prepreg tows.

AFP is a repetitive process which gives the operator more control over component fabrication. This allows for increased processing speed and lowers material waste and labor costs. It also improves part-to-part uniformity.

5. Automated Tape Laying (ATL)

ALT is an even quicker process than AFP. To fabricate high complex parts, ATL lays down the same prepreg tape simultaneously (rather than in single layers). Manufacturers use this process to create both thermoset and thermoplastic components.

The automated equipment required to use this method is expensive, but ATL has the potential to improve your ROI.

6. 3D Printing

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is easily the most well-known manufacturing process.

Traditional manufacturing methods are subtractive processes. These techniques waste raw material, which is then reused over and over again. 3D printing manufacturing technology is more precise.

Additive manufacturing uses CAD data and special software to create a virtual image of a 3D surface. The same software “slices” the 3D image into super thin, 2D patterns. Material is laid down to build a physical, 3D model.

Manufacturers use 3D printing to reduce costs in the product development phase. This process cuts material and labor costs while saving time on toolmaking.

7. The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things is a transformative technology within the manufacturing industry.

The IoT connects electronic devices together, giving them the ability to send and receive data. This happens without human intervention, via the Internet.

By enabling devices to “talk” to each other, IoT improves the quality of components while reducing downtime, waste, and costs.

8. Big Data and Predictive Maintenance Technology

There are also other big data predictive maintenance technologies that are shaping the manufacturing industry.

New technologies, such as the IoT, are available that help manufacturers collect, process, and measure data.

Predictive maintenance technology predicts snags and defects by connecting factories. It also allows for the creation of online databases that track these processes.

In certain industries, such as the medical industry, errors have the potential to be fatal. This is why it is vital for manufacturers to diagnose and create any process flaws.

These important insights provide a solid basis for improving operations.

9. Cloud Computing

You may not associate cloud computing with the manufacturing industry. It is an up-and-coming practice adopted by many companies.

Cloud computing connects remote services via the Internet to store, manage, and process data. This is a game-changer for manufacturers with plants located in various geographic areas.

Cloud computing technology helps manufacturers increase production speed and quality control. In the future, is likely that all facilities will end up connected “to the cloud.”

10. Recycling Technology

Consumers demand improved sustainability practices. All manufacturers must consider their environmental impact when fabricating composites.

New materials increase the longevity of composite components. They last significantly longer than traditional materials. These materials correlate with lower maintenance costs and streamlined manufacturing.

By using composite parts instead of materials like wood, steel, or iron, manufacturers create lightweight pieces. Manufacturers work on components for large projects such as automobiles or aircraft. Lightweight materials create a more efficient product.

Longer service life is achieved through the use of corrosion-resistant material. Traditional materials are vulnerable to rot and corrosion, which results in continuous maintenance.

Research is continuously aimed at improving the recyclability of composite materials. The most environmentally conscious companies are at the forefront of these advancements to ensure a more sustainable future.

A Promising Future

All new manufacturing technology is created with the aim to reduce waste, labor costs, production time, and human error.

These advances in technology are providing innovative solutions to complex engineering processes.

Let us help you meet your growing needs for composite materials and quality engineered parts. Contact us today to speak with us about your next project!

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