Composites Today

Magazine For Composites Professionals

Automatic preforming robot system for lay up

A consortium including SiemensGamesa and Airborne is developing an Automated Preforming Robot System (APRS) for the layup of composite materials in the manufacture of large offshore wind turbine blades.  The programme is funded under ALMA (Automated lay-up processes in wind turbine blade manufacturing project, Demark). The system will lay-up the preform plies automatically, to replace the current manual process. It will decrease the time that the large, expensive moulds are occupied and it will improve the quality of the blade. 

This programme strengthens the collaboration between Airborne and SiemensGamesa, that started in 2022 with the project to build and supply a large, automated system for the manufacturing of offshore blades.  The ALMA project is aimed to further accelerate the technology, adding new functionality, advanced sensor systems and digital twinning. 

The APRS is combined with three key hardware components: a fabric material dispensing system, an end-effector and a robot on a (movable) gantry. The system is coupled with state-of-the-art system inspection software, that combined can utilize preforming tech-nology in the lay-up process for accurate detection of wrinkles and placement of plies during operation. The whole process will be simulated in order to pave the way for a digital twin that enables testing and validation of production cycles before the actual blade production. The product is to be integrated into Siemens Gamesa (SGRE) wind turbine factories. This will enable SGRE to transition towards an automated blade manufacturing process, increasing blade output, while reducing production costs. The ALMA project and proposed solution will thus be an enabler of preform technology at SGRE production sites.

CTO of Airborne Marcus Kremers states “ This programme is a great extension of our collaboration with SiemensGamesa, one of the leading companies in the wind energy sector. It fits nicely within the strong trend that we see in wind and the wider composites industry, which is to automate the layup process with the requirement to stay with the current fabric materials which are affordable and qualified. And that is what we solve with our Automated Ply Placement technology, which allows for easy, fast and flexible automation without the need to change material, it can process the wide variety of materials that are used in industry today.”

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