NASA SBIR 2014 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 14-1 H5.03-9490
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Fabrication and Manufacturing of Polymer Matrix Composite (PMC) Structures
PROPOSAL TITLE: Automated Ply Inspection (API) for AFP

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Flightware, Inc.
829 Podunk Road
Guilford, CT 06437 - 4711
(203) 458-0722

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David Maass
829 Podunk Road
Guilford, CT 06437 - 4711
(203) 458-0722

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David Maass
829 Podunk Road
Guilford, CT 06437 - 4711
(203) 458-0722

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Advanced Fabrication and Manufacturing of Polymer Matrix Composite (PMC) Structures is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Automated Ply Inspection (API) system autonomously inspects layups created by high speed automated fiber placement (AFP) machines. API comprises a high accuracy line scanner to measure surface topology of as-made layups driven by a precision articulated arm Robot to perform rapid surface scanning of a Layup after tape placement and layup. Key to API is efficient and robust software to read very large volumes of line scan data and analyze, classify and detect key Layup features very rapidly and reliably. The software retains only key features, filtering the raw data by two orders of magnitude to facilitate real-time data processing at high scan rates. Software also compares the location of as-made features (gaps, overlaps, drops and adds)with the NC program ("virtual layup") to identify and record only those as-made features that are out of tolerance. API addresses many of NASA's objectives for this topic: ? Manufacturing for launch vehicles ? Innovative automated process (AFP) ? Applies to reliable, large scale PMC structure ? Applies to Autoclave and OOA AFP methods API provides a powerful capability to enhance reliability of structures manufactured by AFP by automating a tedious and difficult manual task. In fact, the speed of AFP machines today has advanced such that manual inspection now takes as much time, and often more, than automated layup requires. API can significantly increase total AFP productivity (C-rate) and reduce cost by reducing Inspection time. Flightware has enlisted the participation of two other small businesses in this program to contribute their experience and expertise as subcontractors for specific tasks. Furthermore we have attracted the interest of larger industry leaders who supply AFP equipment and manufacture AFP Aerospace parts in this program, because they recognize its potential value. This API program is a manufacturing innovation subject to Executive Order 13329 "Encouraging Innovation in Manufacturing."

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Composite cryotanks for propellant storage that save 30% weight and 25% cost are being developed by NASA. Composites offer similar benefits in other space applications such as the Orion Composite Crew Module (CCM) and 8.4 meter Payload Fairings for the Space Launch System (SLS). Advanced manufacturing methods like automated fiber placement (AFP) are needed to achieve these benefits because out-time limits of prepreg systems require that layup and cure of very large parts be performed rapidly. AFP can perform layup at rates 10 to 20 times higher than manual layup, which not only makes these applications feasible but also contributes significantly to affordability, always an important program requirement. API can significantly enhance AFP used to build NASA's structures by allowing critical inspection of these parts (performed 100% by hand today) to keep pace. This allows AFP to be more cost effective and widely used.

A potential outcome of this program is to install an API capability on NASA's AFP Robot recently purchased by LaRC. This could provide NASA with a remain-in-place advanced manufacturing capability at the conclusion of the Phase II program.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
API capability can be provided to industry in two product forms – using either a Robot or AFP Gantry as the scanning platform. When Robotic API is used to inspect AFP layups, it is sometimes possible to perform inspection on the portion of an AFP tool not actively undergoing layup while the other portion of the Tool is being laid up (in other words, in parallel to AFP placement). This can occur, for example, on a back-to-back Spar tool laid up one side at-a-time. Parallel inspection offers the highest productivity (lowest cycle time). In other cases, AFP placement and API inspection must be performed in series due to access limitations and potential collisions. Even so, API is still much faster than current manual inspection.

Gantry based API (with the sensor mounted directly on an AFP Gantry) has the advantage that inspection can be performed in real time (i.e. in parallel with fiber placement). In this scenario inspection adds no cycle time and therefore has the greatest potential to improve AFP productivity and reduce cost.

Robotic API (as developed in Phase I) can be used not only for automated layup such as AFP but also to inspect manual layups as well. AFP today comprises less than 25% of all aerospace composite layup (measured in pounds produced) and therefore the market where the benefits of API can be realized is expanded fourfold.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
3D Imaging
In Situ Manufacturing
Processing Methods
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)

Form Generated on 04-23-14 17:37