OCT 2018


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NEWS 59 simulation at Airbus UK, selected ActiveWorks in part because of its ability to interact seamlessly with the facility's Dassault Systèmes (Vélizy-Villacoublay, France) product lifecycle manage- ment (PLM) software. "We wanted a system that would take our CATIA and DELMIA PLM data and turn it into a 3D VR model automatically, without any need for transla- tion," he recalls. Virtalis demonstrated that its system could perform as required before Airbus invested in it. Unfortunately, Ford says, Airbus discontinued the application after Tantum left the company — an example of the obstacles VR tech- nology may continue to face before more composites industry personnel are familiar and comfort- able with the technology. "It's disappointing," Ford says, "but we continue to seek manufacturers where we can deploy visualization technology across the enterprise." Beyond templates and laser projection While VR technologies enable composites engineers to enter the virtual realm, AR technology is bringing the virtual realm to the actual manufacturing floor. Presaging AR functionality, the first tool to make this direct virtual/actual connection was laser projection, which was introduced to the composites industry in the late 1980s. Laser projection systems import CAD data and use it to generate and project patterns accurately into 3D space. ese patterns most commonly are used as templates, projecting onto a tool the outline of a ply to be laid up. ey also are used to indicate correct fiber orientation, display where holes are to be drilled, pinpoint foreign objects and debris (FOD) based on automatic inspection data, and other functions requiring projection of virtual information into 3D manufacturing space. Taking the opposite tack, and falling somewhere within the spectrum of mixed reality applications, the Anaglyph Ltd. (London, UK) PlyMatch system projects 3D manufacturing space into the virtual realm. Specifically, PlyMatch provides a live feed of the work area, which is displayed on a monitor along with a super-imposed, computer-generated image of each ply to be laid up. e ply software image is generated from a CAD or design file and, because PlyMatch is self-calibrating, the images match up accurately, even when the camera or tool is moved. After an initial calibra- tion, which takes only a few minutes, an optical sensor tracks the relative positions of the camera and tool, and the system's controller updates the positional relationship in real time. e system is reportedly compatible with any CAD application that generates IGES or 3D DXF files. Alternatively, it can be used with Anaglyph's proprietary composites design and analysis software, Laminate Tools, or with compatible layup data files produced by CATIA Composites Link (Dassault Systèmes, Vélizy-Villacoublay, France) or Fibersim (Siemens PLM Software, Plano, TX, US). Applied Composite Engineering (ACE, Indianapolis, IN, US) has used PlyMatch to guide the company's manufacture of a heated inlet for helicopter anti-icing system (see Learn More, p. 62). More recently, Systima Technologies (Kirkland, WA, US), a maker of energetic systems and components primarily for defense and space applications, put PlyMatch to work when the company brought composites manu- facturing in-house in 2014. at's when Eric Wightman came on board as director of structures and advanced materials, a depart- ment that has grown from a one-man operation to a staff of 12. Having previously worked with PlyMatch when he was employed by ACE, Wightman recognized that the technology was a fit for the kind of work Systima would be doing. "We're not a build-to-print shop; we're a design firm," he says, noting that, for a large majority of its projects, Systima builds only first articles. Many of these are long and narrow and feature complicated geometries. For example, Composites and Virtual Reality The benefits that result from VA/AR in composites include reduced development time and reduced risk. Engineering Services Complex Shapes 5 Axis NC Milling Large Facilities High-Precision Equipment CARBON/EPOXY PARTS 360.856.5143 PRODUCTION TOOLING PARTS WITH CORE

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