Automation for CFRP processing

KUKA Systems will develop a multifunctional robotic automation cell for the German Aerospace Center's (DLR) new location in Augsburg, which incorporates the center for lightweight manufacturing technology (ZLP)


In cooperation with KUKA, DLR will use the system at the ZLP to develop new automated production methods based on flexible, cooperating robot systems and mechatronic handling systems. The aim is to cost-effectively manufacture aircraft assemblies from carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). In addition to the manufacturing systems, new solutions for fast and efficient non-destructive test equipment integral to the production systems will also be developed.

DLR and KUKA have resolved to establish a strategic partnership that pools their expertise in an effort to achieve the ambitious technical goals of the project. KUKA will henceforth be involved in several phases of the research project, including the design and testing of the cell, robot end effector development and human/machine cooperation.

"This cooperation agreement gives us the opportunity to offer our extensive automation expertise and experience with handling composite materials for research and manufacturing technology enhancement. Automated handling and processing of new composite materials will in future be an important part of industrial manufacturing in many sectors," says Larry Drake, CEO of KUKA Systems GmbH.

"I am pleased that we will once again be collaborating with DLR on research. KUKA Robotics has been successfully working with the Oberpfaffenhofen-based Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics under the direction of Prof. Gerd Hirzinger since 1993. KUKA's market launch of the lightweight robot is the latest example of this successful cooperation agreement. The cooperation agreement with the German Aerospace Center is also starting to show promise in the area of research and development on robotics for the health care industry. And with the new cooperation agreement between KUKA Systems and the DLR-Stuttgart-initiated ZLP Augsburg in the field of aerospace, we are making further technological progress in one of the areas very important to our future," said Bernd Liepert, CTO of KUKA AG as he commented on the collaboration initiative.

"Automated manufacturing is the key to efficiently producing CFRP components for the aerospace industry," asserts Professor Johann-Dietrich Wörner, chairman of the German Aerospace Center. "It is thus only logical for DLR to pool its existing expertise in the areas of CFRP structural technology, robotics and mechatronics for automation and systematically develop it further. KUKA is DLR's strategic partner in this connection and guarantees that the results will be transferred to the industrial sector. I look forward to continued cooperation with KUKA."

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