Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

First Advisor

Ramy Harik


Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) is the primary method for manufacturing of large and complex primary composite structures in the aerospace industry. Predominantly, AFP use infrared heaters to ensure appropriate tackiness between the different composite layers. The task of accurately detecting and obtaining a set uniform temperature, across the nip point/line, has proven to be difficult. Traditional AFP heat processes are mostly open-loop controlled, which can lead to issues with ensuring accurate and uniform heat distributions. The latter need to be obtained to allow for proper material consolidation to occur. Uneven heating could cause degradation at the center or at the edges of an incomplete consolidation. Therefore, the IR heater arrays’ configuration plays a major impact on the thermal map. Designing a closed-loop feedback heating system based upon the nip-point temperature which will regulate individual wattages will achieve an ideal consolidation. Subdividing the heating bed will be necessary, to ensure a flexible heating bed. This research presents the design and control of an arrayed infrared heater system targeting the delivery of uniform heat across the AFP nip point or roller. Since this system will consist of a matrix of elementary infrared heaters, this system will be abbreviated as Matrix IR. Multiple investigations including height offsets, angles, and IR configurations are characterized to establish the ideal parameters. This is followed by the identification of the most effective array of heaters to ensure uniform heating and to achieve a constant nip point temperature. The implementation of such a closed arrayed heating mechanism is believed to resolve a crucial variable in providing the AFP process with a greater level of control.


© 2020, Benjamin L. C. Greenberg

Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 2025