LayupRITE 101

Building on the successes of the “Augmented Learning for High Dexterity Manufacturing – LayupRITE” project, follow-on funding was acquired from the Ufi Voc Tech Trust. This projected, “LayupRITE 101” sought to integrate the LayupRITE methodology into an existing composites training course. Due to the LayupRITE technology being originally focussed on manual layup the “Introduction to Manual Prepreg” course run by NCC Connect was selected as a template.

Intro to Manual Prepreg and LayupRITE

This course, as the title suggests, is an introduction to the techniques and theory of laying up a component using prepreg materials. Currently the course is run over two days and split into four sessions. Two of the sessions are classroom-based theory, the other two are workshop sessions to teach the hands-on, practical skills of working with prepreg materials. It was felt that this course, both the theory and practical aspects, could be effectively digitised. The classroom content could be delivered using e-learning techniques and the workshop activities could be assisted with LayupRITE.

Benefits of LayupRITE

The aim of integrating e-learning and LayupRITE into this training course is to augment the trainer and move toward a more “blended learning” experience for the learners. This would expand the reach of the training to more learners and give trainers the opportunity to do fewer demonstrations and spend more time supervising and guiding.

The other opportunity is to use simulations to allow students to learn composite drape in a lower-risk way. Simulations would let users try unlimited approaches to a layup task without the cost or risk of handling prepreg materials. Additionally, digital simulations don’t require a workshop and so can be done anywhere, any time.

Tacit skills and workshop tasks

However, the tacit, hands-on skills developed during the workshop sessions are a crucial benefit of the course. These skills can’t be effectively replicated digitally, but use of digital tools, such as augmented reality and simulation practice, can be used to focus the workshop tasks toward getting the necessary skills.

Using digitally delivered simulations to the learners mean that they will have an on-hand reference to the task. For the instructors it will lead to less time giving general demonstrations and facilitating more individual guidance. To make this an enhancement rather than a burden, LayupRITE will have to have be simple to set up and provide enough information at the right level for the user. The previous LayupRITE project has given the team insight in how to achieve this.

Manual layup of a complex part
In-progress draping of a composite ply over a complex mould shape
LayupRITE Simulation of complex shape
LayupRITE Simulation of in-progress layup over a complex mould shape

LayupRITE Ufi Project

Following on from Kinect Assisted Intelligent Layup (KAIL) project, there was a feasibility study to further develop the concept that would become LayupRITE. That project, funded by a University of Bristol Impact Acceleration Account award, laid the groundwork for what would become the current project. Titled Augmented Learning for High Dexterity Manufacturing the project was submitted for the Manufacturing Skills Fund call for funding by the Ufi Charitable Trust.

The Ufi Charitable Trust, born from the sale of Learndirect in 2010, has the aim of increasing the scale of vocational learning. Their main mantra is “better, quicker, digital”. This mantra aligns closely with the guiding philosophy of LayupRITE as a whole. The main difference for the project, given its background as a manufacturing support tool, is that Ufi supports vocational learning specifically. The skills training aspect was always intended to be a part of the LayupRITE offering but until this project there hadn’t been any study of how this could be applied.

Sufficed to say, funding to continue to develop LayupRITE is always welcome, but the bigger impact to the project was introduction to field of vocational training. This project has been a steep learning curve but has also shown the opportunities for this technology to be used in a different setting to deliver real benefit. The opportunity has been a welcome one and given us valuable knowledge and insight into the world of vocational training.

More info on the Ufi Charitable Trust: