Programming and Simulating Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) CNC Machines
Most users of Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) machinery use off-line Numerically Controlled (NC) programming software supplied by the machine builder. This machine builder-supplied software only works with their specific machine, forcing manufacturers to implement multiple off-line NC programming products when using multiple brands or vintages of machines. The more mature CNC metal-cutting industry started the same way, but has now evolved into a clear separation and cooperation between independent software and machine suppliers. This has freed the end-user company to select the best machine for the job, while using one universal software application to create NC programs for a variety of machine brands or vintage. When combined with composite design software tools that specifically take into account AFP manufacturing requirements early in the product development cycle, engineering and manufacturing specifications are seamlessly transferred to the manufacturing process. This paper discusses the implementation and use of machineindependent off-line NC programming software as it applies to CNC fiber placement machines.