Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Ramy Harik


In its 2022 commercial market outlook, Boeing forecasted an 80% increase in the global fleet through 2041 compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. This sharp rise in demand will drive pressure onto airframe manufacturers to ramp up production and find more efficient ways to design and manufacture airplanes. Complicating this challenge is the industry’s recent transformation from traditional metal-based airframes towards hybrid composite-metal aircraft. While composites have been used in aviation for decades, aircraft manufacturers are still struggling to design and manufacture quality parts at a high rate. Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) is one of the main manufacturing techniques used to produce large-scale composite parts. After a design has been created, a manufacturing strategy has to be developed based on the working material, part geometry, and machine capabilities. This process planning stage is essential to the AFP workflow and currently requires a high level of manual input from an experienced process planner. In an effort to automate and optimize this stage, the Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP) module was developed. CAPP assists process planners in identifying optimal starting point location and layup strategy for each ply of a laminate. This Ply-Level Optimization (PLO) phase operates on the quantification of ply quality through predictable geometry-based defects such as gaps, overlaps, angle deviation, and steering. As you move from PLO to Laminate-Level Optimization (LLO) the design space grows exponentially, emphasizing the need for automated optimization.


© 2023, Noah Christopher Swingle