Journal article Open Access

Simulation of laser heating distribution for a thermoplastic composite: effects of AFP head parameters

Omar Baho; Gilles Ausias; Yves Grohens; Julien Férec

Laser-assisted automated fiber placement (AFP) is highly suitable for an efficient production of thermoplastic-matrix composite parts, especially for aeronautic/aerospace applications. Heat input by laser heating provides many advantages such as better temperature controls and uniform heating projections. However, this laser beam distribution can be affected by the AFP head system, mainly at the roller level. In this paper, a new optico-thermal model is established to evaluate the laser energy quantity absorbed by a poly(ether ether ketone) reinforced with carbon fibers (APC-2). During the simulation process, the illuminated radiative material properties are characterized and evaluated in terms of the roller deformation, the tilt of the robot head, and the reflection phenomenon between the substrate and the incoming tape. After computing the radiative source term using a ray-tracing method, these data are used to predict the temperature distribution on both heated surfaces of the composite during the process. The results show that both the roller deformation and the tilt of head make it possible to focus the laser beam on a small area, which considerably affects the quality of the finished part. These findings demonstrate that this optico-thermal model can be used to predict numerically the insufficient heating area and thermoplastic composites heating law.

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