Skip to main content

Automatic Fiber Placement Metitalia Tooling

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AFPMeT (Automatic Fiber Placement Metitalia Tooling)

Período documentado: 2019-03-01 hasta 2020-02-29

The objective of AFPMET Project is to develop, design, manufacture and deliver to the Topic Manager facilities suitable tooling’s to perform AFP (Automatic Fiber Placement) lamination and cure of complex sandwich part of the side structure of an innovative helicopter. The tool must be conceived also to allow coordination with cure tool (provided from a different project) to allow transfer of uncured sandwich panel from lamination to cure tool.

The focus of the project is the performing the transfer process (transfer of wet panel from lamination tool to cure) for which different options have been evaluated.
For this reason, during the project implementation a subscale representative tool has been prepared and used to support feasibility assessment of transfer process.

Moreover, several the tool material and configurations options heve been evaluated and will be evaluated performing selection based on key requirements like:
-Low energy consumption in tool and part fabrication
-Possible reuse of tool material/component

The importance for Metitalia and for OMPM companies is a great opportunity to implement an innovative production:

-Unusual architecture of the aircraft (rotorcraft with a specific architecture)
-Optimized tooling for AFP lamination of complex shape
-Development of thermal modelling to predict and compensate part deformation like Warpage and shrinkage
The activities have covered the design, manufacturing and delivery of all tools needed to perform lamination, cure and post cure for each of the following parts:
1. Side shell left;
2. Side Shell Right;

For each parts listed, the following tools have been designed:

• AFP lamination tool (male)
• Template for panels trimming and index holes drilling;
• Handling tools to perform Uncured Bond Assy transfer;

Tool design has been driven from AFP requirements and took in account the need to reduce or correct warpage and shrinkage issues on the cured parts.

Special effort has been dedicated to the aluminium shell of both RH and LH tool. As a matter of fact, the fabrication of these shells by aluminium lost foam casting was innovative
taking in account the large size, complex shape and requirement of air tightness.

All over the project there has been a full agreement and cooperation with Topic manager in a working together frame. All major decision has been taken in agreement and formalized by dedicate preliminary Design Review and Critical design review. Some of the meeting have been held at Topic Manager site while other has been held at Metitalia and OMPM facility.
Topic manager sent to Metitalia some video and pictures of preliminary test of automated fiber lamination performed in Augsburg.
As said by topic manager, the tool respect all the requirements imposed at the beginning of the project.
In several occasion the Topic manager, FHG and Platform leader, Airbus Germany, have expressed appreciation for the work performed within AFPMET project.

The primary dissemination channel will be directed to the Italy and Europe aerospace, automotive and railway companies already involved in business relations with O.M.P.M. and Metitalia
(i.e. Leonardo Company, Ansaldo, Airbus Helicopter Spain, Ogma, Lamborghini car etc.). The second dissemination channel, not less important, will be toward research institute and University
to disseminate through young engineers and high school technicians, willing to work in the composite field, the novel approach developed in this proposal.
A leaflet and a poster on AFPMET project will be prepared with abstract, significant picture and data that emphasize the contents and main technical achievement.
The content will be agreed with Topic Manager and will enhance the Clean Sky coordination and support.
AFPMET main progress beyond state of art :
1- an innovative process to transfer uncured sandwich structure from Fiber Placement lamination tool to cure tool has been envisaged , demonstrated at subscale level and after approval from Topic manager implemented on full scale tool
2- Aluminum Lost foam casting applied on a big complex lamination tool demonstrated feasibility with good result in terms of no vacuum leakage and reduced warpage of raw casting;


The AFPMET project allowed to make substantial technical advancement in the design and fabrication of complex tools to be used for lamination and wet assy of sandwich structures.
In particular the project allowed to develop and verify:

The use of lost foam casting for aluminum shell allowed to verify on the field the suitability of this process to provide raw shape of complex and large tool to be finished by 5 axis machining. Process went mostly as expected while the presence of some porosity in the casting was recovered by developing a repair process with fast curing adhesive that fixed the vacuum leaks discovered.
In addition, the measurements taken by laser tracker on raw casting allowed to better define the range of thermal deformation that must be taken in account in design the own thickness of casting in respect to the final machined tool. This experience will be used in the future to reduce the over thickness in the casting, reducing the waste of material without the risk of having too thin area on the final machined tool.
The AFPMET experience on lost foam casting will be used for fabrication of other large lamination and cure tools that Metitalia and OMPM are developing in another Clean Sky project.

The use of lost foam casting, as evaluated in a dedicated report allowed to reduce the energy consumption in the overall process of tool fabrication. In fact, in respect to other possible process i.e. welded plate to be machined, there was a substantial energy saving. In fact, casting due to the fact that its shape is closer to the final one, reduces the mass of aluminum involved and the amount of material to be removed by machining. Rough estimate results that casting reduce to about ½ the amount of energy that would be used in the case of welded plate.