Valin Fully Automates Manual Filament Winding Machine
A company in the spaceflight industry purchased a filament winding machine and was trying to manufacture composite pressure vessels that had a compound curvature. The problem was that the contour of the pressure vessels was so extreme that the filament winding machine could not lay the material down on their mandrel without the material folding over itself. The solution they found was to create an additional axis that could be rotated in such a way that the material would no longer fold over. The problem with the in-house solution was that it was not automated and required manual adjustment of a rotary axis (later referred to as the "Slew Axis"). What made the task even more difficult was that the slew axis had to be rotated in a non-linear fashion with respect to another axis (referred to as the "Eye-Yaw Axis"). To add to the complexity of the problem, the OEM was unable to provide a solution and the customer did not want to tamper with the controller on their brand new machines.
A test engineer in charge of their structural testing program for a new rocket reached out to Valin for help. He had worked with us in the past and was now looking for a partner who could help them with their upcoming complex projects. Valin’s solution was to add a motor-controlled Slew axis. This would allow them to electronically cam the Slew axis, synchronized to the position of the Eye Yaw axis with information passed over the automation field bus, providing them the non-linear control they needed. By being able to pass the Eye Yaw axis’ position over the automation bus, the newly installed Slew axis was able to follow it with its own internal cam profile. Normally, this would require modification to the existing controller’s programming. With this solution, however, the existing controller remained completely untouched. The customer made the mechanical additions and electronic installations themselves, while Valin sized and selected the motor and gearbox, then worked onsite for two days to help them integrate the electronics into their existing drive system.
The benefit to the customer is a fully automated system with greater control, without needing to modify the existing controller’s program. They can even modify the cam profile for each product without needing to touch the sophisticated controller of the system. The benefit of their Valin partnership was relying on our product and technology expertise to help select and integrate the components into their existing system. Their deadline was tight but was successfully attained only because they could rely on Valin’s expertise.