The advanced composites industry has not been idle over the last few years. New and innovative solutions hit the market to help accelerate composites adoption across more markets, like automated production lines that enable higher production volumes and reduce production costs. But, let’s be honest: it is still complex to use the technology. To accelerate adoption even further, we have developed a user-friendly on-demand manufacturing portal which makes design and production of composite parts extremely easy.
What good is a solution, if it’s difficult to use? In the world of composites there is a growing interest on how to automate and digitalise production processes. We are warming up to the idea of implementing automated and digital solutions. But in many cases you have to be a composites expert to use all these new technologies.
The start of your composites journey
So we thought: why not start where our customers start their composites journey? Suppose you have a great idea for a composite product. Right now, you have to take many specialised steps to develop this idea into a design and production order. First off, you have to draw up the design including all specifications and variables. This requires in-depth composites knowledge to ensure the composite has the performance you need. For many engineers, it is not intuitive to design in composites because it behaves quite different from more conventional materials like plastics or metals.
So, you reach out to a company that can help you with the design and part manufacturing. A highly-skilled engineer will then interpret the design, give feedback and advice, calculate a quotation, interact to optimise performance versus cost and delivery time, program the robot, set up security protocols and so forth. Weeks, if not months pass by, driving up costs while keeping you waiting. But hold on: who really wants to wait and go through all this trouble?! Instead, why not fully digitalise this process and execute all tasks automatically, receive instant feedback and order the product with just one click of a button?
Airborne On-demand Manufacturing Portal: 3D printing for composites
This is why we are building the Airborne On-demand Manufacturing Portal: a digital platform where customers can design, configure and order their composite products. This is in essence 3D printing: you enter a design, click, and your product is produced straight away. The On-demand Manufacturing Portal fully automates the tasks of design & analysis, optimising for cost, defining the optimal manufacturing settings, and checking safety protocols. Giving the order will result in the live and automated production of your design. What normally takes weeks is now reduced to seconds.
You don’t need to be an expert
The portal is ideal for customers and markets that are new to composites. You don’t need to be an expert to benefit from the great potential that composite has for lightweight, durable products with superior performance. And if you are an expert, this portal will make your engineering life easy and fast, freeing up head space to truly be creative and solve the problems you have on your plate.
Whether you want to order a one-off product or high volume manufacturing, the process, quality and efficiency is the same. Remember that contrary to most composite 3D printing, this portal works with high-end, accepted and certified composite manufacturing systems suitable for both one-offs and high-volume manufacturing.
How to use the On-demand Manufacturing Portal
The portal can be used in three ways:
- You can order your designs and let them be manufactured by Airborne.
- You can let your customers experience the ultra-easy and fast way of designing and ordering composite products that you then manufacture and deliver to them. This will boost your sales ánd make your operations more efficient at the same time.
- You can deploy the portal internally in your company and make engineering and manufacturing much more efficient, faster and flexible. The portal can connect to the automation solutions that we provide to you, or connect to third party systems.
Freedom to make your own choices
In the conventional composites world, there already are a lot of software tools that engineers can use. A tool to design the part, one to run performance analysis, create the laminate build-up, convert designs into production information, perform path planning, program the robot, optimise the manufacturing strategy, run safety verifications etc. In practice, the engineer uses these tools to optimise towards the wishes of the customer, based on his own experience and judgement, and using a lot of imports and exports between the various software packages. The result is a lengthy process, where the outcome depends on the specific engineer with a lot of room for errors.
The On-demand Manufacturing Portal connects all these tools, and lets them run instantaneously in one seamless flow. This enables direct feedback on performance, cost and production time. The user is given the freedom to optimise and select what he finds more important: ultimate performance or lowest cost? Minimal material waste or shortest production time? Once the design is finalised and you press order, the automated process continues by creating a customised digital code for the robot. And off your order goes!
See the Airborne On-demand Manufacturing Portal demo live at JEC World 2019
At JEC World 2019 we will demonstrate our On-demand Manufacturing Portal for the first time. What makes this extra special is that it will all happen live: from Paris you will be able to control our Automated Laminating Cell in The Netherlands. After creating your design in the portal and checking whether you like the performance, cost and production time, you push the button and the robot will start to produce your laminates. Easy, fast and reliable.
You are more than welcome to visit us at JEC or later at Airborne and experience how easy the Airborne On-demand Manufacturing Portal works. The portal will soon go live, so keep posted!
This blog was published on Linkedin as well – please visit Marcus Kremers Linkedin Profile to connect.