Aerospace: Producing CFRP parts more than twice as fast using laser projectors.

COMPOSITE PRO projector system from LAP optimizes production for Czech CFRP experts, LA composite

"Let's put an end to waste in our composite production!" says Petr Prucha, Development Manager at LA composite. LA composite s.r.o. from Prague in the Czech Republic has successfully achieved this ambitious goal using COMPOSITE PRO from LAP. LAP, manufacturers of high-precision laser projection systems, therefore now has a further customer in the aerospace industry. With the high-power projectors, LA composite saves in two ways at once: Scrap in production drastically reduced, and more than 50 percent labor time saving during the production of CFRP parts. Prucha: "We wanted a proven technology. LAP has fulfilled all our demands. The references in the aerospace and composite industry, for example at Airbus,convinced us."

LA composite manufactures composite parts for aircraft, machines and rail-bound vehicles. For the main field of business, the aerospace sector, the Czech CFRP experts produce parts for the primary structures, such as fuselage, wings and tail using the prepreg technology (preimpregnated fibers; semi-finished products made from endless fibers and polymer matrix). The dependability of these parts, in particular, is crucial; their failure would have catastrophic consequences. "The high quality and dependability of our products is at the forefront of our developments," explains Development Manager Petr Prucha. "In LAP we have found a partner who supports us in ensuring the quality and dependability of our products."

Prucha explains: "The greatest challenge in our production is the perfect positioning of the prepreg sections with correct alignment and in a precisely defined order. Only then can our composite parts achieve the demanded parameters for the finished product. The parts often have to withstand enormous static and dynamic loads. Particularly in the aerospace industry, the load carrying capacity is the most important criterion."

Economic benefit: More than half the labor time saved thanks to laser projection
In the typical workflow of CFRP part production, the Czech suppliers to the aerospace industry save a great deal of time, and therefore costs, thanks to LAP. "Through the use of the LAP lasers we save more than half the time we would otherwise had to spend," analyses Development Manager Prucha. "Thanks to the high positioning accuracy of the parts and the elimination of human error during production, we save even more time, because that is time that we don't have. 

Later repairs to defective CFRP caused, for example, by incorrect laying of inserts, cores or reinforcements, can now be more or less ruled out. That has further significantly enhanced the cost-effectiveness of our production."

Exact working using patterns: Faster and more precise production with COMPOSITE PRO
The LAP projectors enable LA composite to lay the individual CFRP layers of the parts exactly according to the design specifications. "In the meantime the geometries of the components that we produce, for example for helicopters or airplanes, have become so complex that the production would be almost impossible or at least far slower and with a high scrap rate without laser-based projection," explains Prucha. "The operators of the projectors in our works are glad to have COMPOSITE PRO as a colleague for their work."

Simple integration: Quick saving of time and costs in production
Development Manager Prucha explains the work process for the projector-aided production of CFRP parts for the aerospace industry: ”We create 3D model with desired contours in our design software SolidWorks. Patterns for projection are exported from SolidWorks to LAP Composite PRO software, which transmits the data directly to the projectors. They show the user the exact position and form of the CFRP layers, embedded parts and sandwich cores during production. The laborious and very time-consuming manual measurement with clumsy templates has been completely eliminated from our production thanks to the LAP projectors. That was ultimately the goal: To save time during production and hence to save significant costs. The integration of COMPOSITE PRO into our existing production processes was extremely simple. We could start work immediately after the installation of the projectors."

Quality and efficiency significantly boosted
In addition to reducing the error quota, the engineers at LA composite confirm that the LAP projectors also increase the accuracy in the positioning of the inserts and cores of the CFRP parts. "COMPOSITE PRO has not only improved the efficiency of our production, but has also led to a noticeable increase in the quality of our products.

A particular problem is the exact positioning of objects with very complex geometries of the parts," explains Prucha. "Before we installed COMPOSITE PRO we had to work with large tolerances, and consequently with larger inserts whose position was not always as exact as our engineers had planned them. The consequence was far more scrap, a poorer product quality and less complex parts. But thanks to the LAP laser projects, that is now all in the past. With COMPOSITE PRO we have finally been able to use smaller inserts that now make modern, highly complex forms possible."

Outlook: Further fields of application await COMPOSITE PRO

In addition to the use of laser projectors, Petr Prucha and his team of developers are already thinking about their use in the cutting of the CFRP parts. "Many of the components that we produce at LA composite have very complex shapes. We have already discussed using COMPOSITE PRO also for the final trimming of the parts," says Prucha. "We know from the use during the processing of the prepregs that the LAP laser projectors can project very complex geometries. We now want to use this feature also in the manual final trimming of the parts."

Sergey Makaschutin, Area sales manager Eastern Europe at LAP: "We expect a definite increase in the use of laser projectors. They are already well established in the aerospace industry, but manufacturers in quite different branches will hardly be able to avoid using this technology. After all, laser projection allows quality and efficiency to be boosted very quickly."

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