To cope with increased demand for composite components Formaplex Ltd has just installed a new high speed automated CNC cutting machine.
‘As with many companies supplying high tech industries such as motorsport and aerospace, we have experienced a huge growth in the demand for composite materials to both reduce weight and increase strength,’ said Joe Mason, composites production manager. ‘Cutting carbon fibre and glass pre-preg material was done manually using knives and rulers, but as this was very labour intensive and time consuming, it was essential that we automate the processes to cope with this increased demand.’
Accuracy and repeatability are critical when cutting composite fabrics as small differences in the pattern can change the properties of the finished product.
The automated cutter supplied by Blackman and White has a 1.6 m wide vacuum bed which locks the material in place for fast and accurate cutting. Usually 2.8 m in length, the bed is conveyorised so it can also cope with larger lengths of materials. Intuitive software automatically nests intricate patterns and calculates the best layout to minimise wastage while the computer controlled blade cuts the material at speeds of up to 1200mm/sec.
‘Composite materials are expensive, and being able to nest patterns means we can now make the best use of materials, minimise wastage and cut costs,’ added Mason.
This story is reprinted from material from Formaplex, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.