In the 21st-century, manufacturing processes for many materials are well established in a way that they are completely automated and can produce reliable and precise parts time after time. But composites are one class of materials whose manufacturing processes still involve a lot of labor-intensive operations and are time-consuming.
With the growing demand of parts made of composite materials, this industry needs a push towards automation to meet these demands.
Lack of Automation
Even today, a large number of composite parts especially in MSMEs are made using manual processes due to lack of access to the cutting edge machines. This is the main reason why composite parts still cost a lot! It’s not just that the material is expensive, the manufacturing processes are also expensive since they involve a lot of manpower and time. This high cost is the reason why high-performance composite parts haven’t entered as much in the mainstream market.
Also, the manual processes like hand layup result in human error causing higher rejection rates due to defects in some parts.
Other processes like Resin Transfer moulding, even though they seem automated require a highly labour-intensive setup process.
These processes also involve high material wastage. Fiber wastage is due to the fact that the preforms are cut from a large fiber mat and this always results in up to 30% wastage of material.
The existing methods also always require some amount of post-processing which adds to the time and cost of manufacturing.
Thus it is clear that automated manufacturing processes are the way forward if they can solve the issues related to wastage and decrease the cost of production.
Automation: The way forward
It is a known fact that automating any production process can reduce production cost and increase reliability and repeatability. Fabheads’ continuous fiber printing technology is a completely automated process for fabricating full composite parts.
Continuous fiber printing just requires the 3D model of the part. It eliminates the need for drafting drawings for both the tool and the component.
Since its a completely additive manufacturing process, there is almost no material wastage which can, in turn, save lots of costs considering that composite materials are quite expensive. This can reduce the cost of the end product dramatically.
Highly composite dependent industries such as aerospace, defense, etc and the way they operate will be revolutionized using these composite processes.
Automated processes can enable the production of spare parts on demand and thus a huge inventory does not have to be maintained.
At Fabheads, we believe that in the future composites will be the go-to material even in the mainstream market. The current widely used manual processes will not suffice for this boom. Fabheads wants to build technologies that can cater to high upcoming demands.