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Advanced Fiber Placement (AFP) machines are used for the manufacture of large-scale, complex-shaped structures composed of composite materials. These materials, which offer lighter weight with equivalent or greater strength than metals, are increasingly used in airframes and other industrial products.
Fiber Placement is an automated composites manufacturing process of heating and compacting resin pre-impregnated non-metallic fibers on typically complex tooling mandrels. The fiber usually comes in the form of what are referred to as "tows". A tow is typically a bundle of carbon fibers impregnated with epoxy resin and is approximately 0.500" wide by 0.005" thick and comes on a spool. Fiber placement machines (FPM) generally have a capacity of 12 to 32 tows or when placing all tows at a time in a course, have respective course widths of 1.5" to 4". The tows are fed to a heater and compaction roller on the FPM head and through robotic type machine movements, are placed in courses across a tool surface. Courses are generally placed in orientations of 0°, +45°, -45° and 90° to build up plies which in combination, have good properties in all directions. Fiber placement machines are generally rated in (lbs/hr), (lbs/min) or weight per time.
Providers of AFP machines: