Fabrication of complex 3D composites by fusing automated fiber placement (AFP) and additive manufacturing (AM) technologies

Felix Raspall, Rajkumar Velu, Nahaad Mohammed Vaheed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Automated fiber placement (AFP) is emerging as one of the advanced methods toward fabrication of polymer matrix based composite structures. This automated technique focuses on polymer composite manufacturing for use in a wide range of automotive and aerospace applications. The AFP process offers an elevated level of customization through the possibility of placing each individual tow at custom-designed trajectories. Additive manufacturing (AM) method, on the other hand, has the potential to fabricate functional end user parts of complex geometries, thus eliminating the need for costly tooling, multi-step processing and fasteners or joints. This paper will highlight the potential of fusing AFP and AM processes to fabricate complex 3D polymer based composite parts. A combination of these two processes suggests a promising option for composite materials development, improving composite structures in terms of complexity and customizability. The paper presents the adopted research methodology, background research, the design, development and set up of an experimental workcell that fuses AM and AFP, and the design methodology which is required to design complex composite parts using the proposed manufacturing process. Main challenges and opportunities are discussed, such as how restrictions of conventional composite production can be eased, and additional freedoms of design can be achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-16
Number of pages11
JournalAdvanced Manufacturing: Polymer and Composites Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D printing
  • Robot fabrication
  • additive manufacturing
  • automated fiber placement
  • carbon fiber reinforcement
  • design methodology
  • polymer composites
  • toolpath simulation


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