Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Computer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Michel Van Tooren


An automated fiber placement process is desired for manufacturing variable-stiffness thermoplastic composite laminates. By developing such a composite laminate, it is possible to take advantage of the tunable performance increases that are achievable by spatially steering individual tows. In addition, using a thermoplastic polymer as the matrix material has many advantages: a high toughness, ability to employ thermoplastic joining processes that do not require adhesives, long storage life, and lacks the need to be refrigerated. This process was experimentally developed, where the effect of various process parameters on the quality of the laminate were evaluated. An experimental AFP head was developed in order to monitor and record the compaction pressure, heating temperature, tool temperature, and tow tension in-situ. By comparing the resulting layups to traditional processes, a quantitative assessment is made on the ability to automatically place thermoplastic composite tows for the manufacturing of constant stiffness composite laminates. Lastly, the feasibility of utilizing this process for the fabrication of variable stiffness thermoplastic composites is assessed.