The LayupRITE system has seen several iterations over the various projects where it, and its predecessor Kinect Assisted Intelligent Layup (KAIL). All versions included three basic components: a projector, a Kinect and a PC to run both. The main difference between KAIL and the original version of LayupRITE was essentially a big hardware upgrade.
KAIL had shown the utility in marrying user tracking and projection to instruct composites layup, but the projector wasn’t bright enough to be used on carbon fibre materials in the expected lighting conditions of a clean room. A brief study was carried out to determine the power of projector required for this, with woven carbon fibre prepreg being the worst-case in terms of projection. Unfortunately, the worst-case is also the most likely use-case for the system.
In addition to a power boost an ultra-short-throw (UST) projector was used to try and mitigate some of the mounting issues with standard projectors. These projectors had to be mounted at a longer distance from the workspace and directly overhead, leading to a more complex gantry-style mounting solution. By using a brighter, UST projector we were able to get around many of the projection issues with the older KAIL setup.
 M. Such, C. Ward, W. Hutabarat and A. Tiwari, “Intelligent Composite Layup by the Application of Low Cost Tracking and Projection Technologies,” Procedia CIRP, vol. 25, pp. 122-131, 2014.
Training is key part of any job and in a process like prepreg layup it makes all the difference. Laying down and draping fabric can, from the outside, seem like a menial task, but when the material is as valuable as carbon fibre reinforced epoxy mistakes can be costly. There are two schools of thought on preventing mistakes: inspection – detect and identify mistakes as they happen to remove them, and training – make it so the laminators/manufacturers don’t make mistakes. In reality both are necessary. In the aerospace industry for example inspection is required for traceability and quality purposes. Training is required because the manufacturing process is complex, and training is more cost-effective than attempting to completely mistake-proof the process.
What LayupRITE was envisioned as was a system which can direct laminators on location of plies and sequence of events, particularly draping plies, and in later versions also inspect and accept the layup. This vision has evolved to include a more complete vision for laminator training, but more on that in a later post.