Fiber placement production methods

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




(2000), "Fiber placement production methods", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Fiber placement production methods

Fiber placement production methods

Keywords: Composite Design Technologies, Cincinnati Machine, Software, Partnering

Composite Design Technologies, Inc. (CDT), a leader in creating CAD integrated software solutions for composite design and manufacturing, and Cincinnati Machine (CM), specialist in large, high-speed, specialized machine tools for the aerospace industry, jointly announced that they have partnered to enable companies to take better advantage of the tremendous potential of the fiber placement manufacturing process. Engineers can now design parts specifically for fiber placement in a highly productive CAD integrated design environment and quickly get the producibility feedback necessary to efficiently exploit this new process. The direct link between CDT's composite design software and Cincinnati Machine's fiber placement programming software reportedly eliminates the manual re-entry and re-creation of design data previously required. This link significantly increases engineering productivity, eliminates errors, and facilitates changes to optimize designs for fiber placement.

Fiber placement machines are believed to combine the advantages of filament winding, contour tape laying, and computer control to automate the production of complex composite parts that conventionally require extensive hand lay-up. Using fiber placement machines can reduce costs, cycle times, structural weight, and handwork/rework when manufacturing composite parts, but creating the data files for the fiber placement programming software requires the user to follow specific labeling conventions. With the new FiberSIM Fiber Placement Interface from CDT, users can automatically generate fiber placement data files directly within their CAD system from the 3D model of the composite part. This enables engineers to evaluate the producibility of a part in its to-be-manufactured state at any time throughout the design process.

Fiber placement technology has tremendous potential, but only if the parts are designed specifically for that manufacturing process. Because it is now so easy to pass design data to the fiber placement programming software, engineers can get producibility feedback early in the design cycle so they can make changes to create the optimal design. By providing a direct link between the CAD model and the fiber placement programming software, engineers can pursue a concurrent engineering methodology and take the surprise factor out of designing fiber placed parts.

Until the integration of these products, engineers were forced to take a considerable amount of time to organize and annotate the CAD model to comply with the fiber placement programming software. Now the FiberSIM Fiber Placement Interface links the FiberSIM Composite Engineering Environment (CEE), CDT's composite design software, with Acraplace, Cincinnati Machine's fiber placement programming software. The Fiber Placement Interface exports FiberSIM CEE data and part geometry directly from the user's CAD system to a file written in Cincinnati Machine's fiber placement language (FPL). The Fiber Placement Interface provides interactive functionality within the FiberSIM CEE to manage unique fiber placement design entities, including fiber axis, lay-up side point, mandrel/shaft alignment points, and process regions. The product enables automated creation of Acraplace FPL import files that accurately represent part lay-up surfaces, ply definitions, ply orientation information, and the unique fiber placement entities.

CDT and Cincinnati Machine have been working closely together for a year to link their products and the two companies plan to continue to collaborate on developing new products. By reducing the chance error and the time required to design fiber placed parts, executives from both companies expect a dramatic increase in the use of fiber placement technology. Experience has shown that instead of taking days to determine if a potential design can be fiber placed, engineers can now design a part and obtain producibility feedback on fiber placed parts in a few hours. Having access to this rapid feedback enables the designer to easily make changes to the design if necessary.

To endorse the relationship between the two companies, CDT named Cincinnati Machine an official member of the FiberSIM Integration Partner Program on SeptemberÂ’21, 1999. The Program facilitates the seamless integration of composite design and manufacturing by ensuring that FiberSIM output is compatible with downstream manufacturing processes.

FiberSIM is a suite of software products that transforms CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER and Unigraphics CAD systems into high performance environments for designing and manufacturing composite parts. The FiberSIM product suite includes tools that automate the design process, assess the producibility of a part, and generate manufacturing information including documentation, flat patterns, and data to interface with laser projectors, automated cutters and fiber placement machines. Consequently, FiberSIM enables users to drive all aspects of preliminary design, analysis, detailed design, and manufacturing from within a single CAD master model.

Details available from Composite Design Technologies; Tel: +1 781-290-0506, x281. Fax: +1 781-290-0507. WWW:

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