The Ply-Picker Tool Features

In response to the need for labor reduction and process improvements in cut room and composite layup operations, ARM Automation has developed a unique robotic solution for ply picking and handling. This patent-pending tool head and system provides answers to several long-standing issues which have prevented the wider adoption of automation in production of traditionally hand-laid composites.

Universal gripper suitable to complex shapes and sizes

A unique picking method allows for a limited number of control points to provide near-infinite ply shape complexity and fine resolution of select ply geometry. The Ply-Picker's unique "progressive pick" method allows tightly nested shapes to be picked cleanly and quickly without "tag-along" material or ply distortion.

Patent pending uncut fiber detection tools

The Ply-Picker pick head includes a suite of sensors and software which allow for real-time detection of uncut fibers and/or stuck material, a common problem for most all composite cut table operations. Uncut detections stop the picking process and allow the head to reverse the progressive pick, returning the offending ply to its original position. From there, the system calls for manual assistance to cut or clear the offending ply before resuming operation.

High-resolution ply inspection and automatic FOD detection

By virtue of the flat pick surface, the Ply-Picker head can provide for high-resolution scans and inspection of each ply during the pick process. This allows for ply shape verification, ply as-picked alignment and FOD detection on the exposed surface.

Automated layup of flat pre-forms for both pre-preg and thermoplastic materials

As an option, the same pick tool can provide for automated layup and consolidation of predominately flat composite preforms. Ply to Ply alignment can be achieved down to the physical limits of visual edge detection on cut fabrics.

Automated backer removal and disposal

Once laminated, one of multiple patent-pending backer removal tools can be used to automatically separate and remove both poly and paper backer materials.

Visual inspection of layup, ply-by-ply

With the addition of each new ply to a layup, a fixed camera and lighting system provide for build verification and FOD detection at the layup table.

System Benefits

  • No programming - automatic ply identification based on nest file data
  • Supports super-nesting and more optimal material usage
  • Higher net throughput and quality yields
  • Full inspection record and tracking of all plys in production
  • Consolidated flat-preforms reduce manual time and labor