Jacob Ondeck

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Michel van Tooren


The Automated Fiber Placement manufacturing process is a method for constructing layered composite parts. This is done by placing tapes of material on a tool using a compaction roller and heat to tackify the material [1]. This manufacturing process is not new, but latest equipment generations can still introduce randomly occurring defects, presenting often as tow twists, gaps, unintentional overlaps and even missing tows during the layup process. These defects deviate the manufactured structure from the as-designed structure, and have been proven to introduce stress concentration sources, which can ultimately undermine the performance of a structure [2]. To detect and avert these defects during manufacturing, a profilometry driven topology analysis system can be used to scan the placed tows, check for layup defects, and record a history of the part [3,4]. However, for certain materials and environmental conditions, it has been shown that the utilized profilometers do not currently return reliable readings of the material topology. An experimental investigation into the feasibility of improving scan results of specific thermoset composite materials is summarized by investigating settings on commercially available profilometry scanners. Additionally, the impacts of material characteristics including surface quality are explored. Presented are the challenges, analysis, and potential solutions discovered to improve scanning results.