Robot-based automation system for the flexible preforming of single-layer cut-outs in composite industry

Claudia Ehinger, Gunther Reinhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Due to the outstanding material properties the use of carbon fiber reinforced plastics in aerospace applications has grown rapidly during the last years. However, the manual process of creating a preform out of dry cut-outs is still very time-consuming and error-prone and thus limits an efficient use of this technology. Especially the high diversity of variants, the material properties and the complexity of the process limited an automation of the preforming process so far. In this paper an automation system is presented, which consists of a robot-based preforming end-effector and its offline path-planning. The end-effector has a highly modular and flexible design and integrates the three essential functions of the preforming process: gripping, draping and heating. Based on a detailed analysis of the geometric parameters of the preforms and its layers the task-specific layout of the end-effector is conducted. To achieve a preform in high-quality a solution for controlling the end-effector and planning the robot-path is necessary. Hence, a semi-automatic approach is developed, which incorporates the know-how of experts and automatically generates layup-curves with path-synchronous trigger signals for the end-effector. In an experimental set up the feasibility and flexibility of the automation solution could be successfully tested. The evaluation on three industrial moulds showed that the challenging requirements and the high quality standards could be met.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-565
Number of pages7
JournalProduction Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Assembly
  • Automation
  • Composite
  • End-effector
  • Limp material
  • Preforming


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