(NCC)

Our innovation is designed to transform how hand laminators are trained. “LayupRITE” uses an augmented reality platform to deliver customised, quality-assured training. It is based on extensive knowledge of the hand layup process and research-backed training methodologies. Using off-the-shelf display and tracking components, this cost-effective system projects information directly onto the tool surface. This is intended to reduce the time and cost of training for new laminators and aid new product introduction.

Hand layup of composites is a key manufacturing technique in aerospace, high-value automotive and other industries, reliant on the flexibility and quality outputs of composite laminators. However, a key component of this production method is the laminators skillset themselves. Traditionally their skills have been developed by following more experienced laminators, usually as in-house, on-the-job training, or shadowing. This type of training will struggle to meet the growing market needs for composites as it is a lengthy and time-consuming process which requires the attention of experienced staff, taking them away from key production tasks. In addition, this style of training is not transferrable across the labour market and may transfer poor work practices to the next generation of composite laminators.

Hand layup is well-suited to producing relatively small, but highly complex components, where automation simply cannot create the required geometries. These complex components can represent a relatively low proportion of the weight of a structure, but a high proportion of its value. The complexity of the component coupled with the tacit knowledge of how to drape the composite plies mean that good hand layup is a highly skillful task. As it is carried out by human operators, however, there is room to improve its repeatability.