The Tracer projects a template of laser light onto the composite tool, outlining the exact location and orientation of the composite ply materials, and does so in the proper sequence, according to the job’s CAD-based ply schedule. The use of these virtual templates dramatically improves cycle time for very complex lay-ups that take dozens to hundreds of plies, the company reports. Furthermore, eliminating the time it takes to build physical templates is crucial to reducing manufacturing costs and time to market.
Using laser projection also greatly reduces the pain points of the engineering change order (ECO) process, allowing rapid incorporation of changes (days versus weeks or months). When the CAD model is changed, laser projection changes are uploaded to the computer that controls the projector and the changes are immediately implemented on the next production unit.
In addition, with computer and laser-guided assembly, the possibility of having defects during the lay-up process is greatly reduced because laser-guided assembly solutions ensure the highest production quality level, regardless of the experience and the skills of the personnel in the various shifts.
Laser projection technology also provides valuable assistance for automated fibre placement (AFP) machines. Traditionally, manufacturers checked fibre angles using hand tools. However, this is time-consuming and labour-intensive and stops production. Laser projection technology is a fast method of verifying ply orientation. By adopting a laser projector solution, fibre angles can be visually verified during the projection process. The FARO Tracer Laser Projector projects the desired line (fibre angle line) and an operator visually checks using the projected line as a guide and a protractor.
The Tracer accurately projects a 0.5 mm wide laser line onto a 2D/3D surface or object to provide a virtual template that enables operators and assemblers to quickly and accurately position components with absolute confidence. The clearly-defined laser template is created with the use of a 3D CAD model, enabling the system to visually project a detailed laser outline of parts, artifacts, or areas of interest. The result is a virtual and collaborative 3D template able to streamline a wide range of assembly and production applications, allowing companies to improve productivity and quality. The ability to guide a process sequence, along with accurately locating and orienting components, increases manufacturing efficiencies. Costly non-conformances are eliminated by implementing a simple, reliable, repeatable and cost-effective solution to streamline production processes.
For large assemblies and/or in space-constrained areas, multiple Tracer projectors can be controlled from a single workstation to provide large-scale virtual templates in one coordinate system.