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GKN orders preforming line for faster composites
Thursday, 29 June 2023
The system will integrate an Automated Ply Placement (APP) cell by Airborne, Automated Preform Trimming by Accudyne Systems, a ply cutter from Assyst Bullmer, and a Hot Drape Former by PAC Group.

GKN has selected Airborne to supply a fully automated preforming line to the Global Technology Centre, Bristol, UK. The system will integrate an Automated Ply Placement (APP) cell by Airborne, Automated Preform Trimming by Accudyne Systems, a ply cutter from Assyst Bullmer, and a Hot Drape Former by PAC Group.

The system will transform broad goods such as woven or NCF materials into 3D preforms suitable for RTM. Cut shapes can be optionally stored in Airborne's buffer enabling “out of sequence” nesting, minimising material waste and improving cost and sustainability. Plies will be assessed using a vision system and then via “pick and weld” assembled into 2D tailored blank preforms. These will be 3D formed by the Hot Drape Former and then finally trimmed to shape on the trimming cell.

Each sub-system will be integrated by Airborne into GKN's Automated Programming software platform. Each device can be operated stand-alone however in automated mode the system will translate design and process input into individual controls and robot code without the need for programming. The system will generate instructions on the fly enabling flexible manufacturing.

The system will initially be deployed to fulfil objectives of the ASCEND project. GKN Aerospace is leading a UK industry consortium called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) to develop and accelerate composite material and process technologies for the next generation of energy efficient aircraft and future mobility. The andpound;40m consortium, funded by a  andpound;20.0M commitment from industry and a andpound;19.6M commitment from the UK Government via ATI,  will focus on greater adoption of composite technologies today, the industrialization of new technologies, as well as accelerating aerospace production rates to meet future high-volume requirements. The collaboration will help develop technologies from across the UK supply-chain to develop the advanced materials and automation equipment  required to manufacture lightweight structures for the sustainable air mobility, aerospace and automotive industry.

Joe Summers, Commercial Director of Airborne and Managing Director of Airborne UK says: “This major commitment from GKN Aerospace to Airborne's technology further supports our goal to offer flexible automation solutions and workflow automation enabling higher rate manufacturing of composite structures.”

Contact details from our directory:
Airborne NL Aircraft Structural Components, Carbon-reinforced Composites, Composite Manufacturing Services, Composite Sandwich Panels, Composite Structures, Composite Tape Lay-down, Laminating Equipment, Plant Automation Equipment, Subcontracted Composite Parts
GKN UK Global Technology Centre (UTC) Additive Manufacturing, Composite Structures, Empennages, Research/Consulting Services, Wings, Wire Harnesses
Assyst Bullmer Ltd Cutting Equipment, Cutting Tools
PAC Group Busbars, Calibration Equipment & Services, Circuit Breaker Panels, Composite Thermoforming, Computer-aided Design, Electric Power Controllers, Electrical Consultants, Electrical Fittings, Engineering Design Services, Engineering Management Services, Fabricating Services, Flow Meters, Gas Detectors, Heat Treatment, Industrial Ovens, Industrial Robots, Injection Moulding, Inverters, Linear Sensors, Materials Handling Equipment, Plant Automation Equipment, Process Control Systems, Reinforced Composite Molding Compounds, Relays, Systems Integration, Temperature Detectors, Transducers, Uninterruptible Power Supplies, Vacuum Equipment, Vacuum Processes
Accudyne Systems, Inc. Composite Broad Goods Lay-Up, Composite Tape Lay-down, Composite Thermoforming, Filament Winding Equipment, Laminating Equipment, Plant Automation Equipment
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Production Equipment