Two gantry systems adjacent to one another can each produce a 45 m wind turbine blade shell half in less than two hours, with half the manual labour of conventional methods.
Two gantry systems adjacent to one another can each produce a 45 m wind turbine blade shell half in less than two hours, with half the manual labour of conventional methods.

The rapid material placement system (RMPS) introduces integrated manufacturing with automation and repeatable process control to what has largely been a manual or piecemeal-automated process.

RMPS is an automated blade moulding facility capable of spraying in-mould coatings, dispensing/lay-up of glass and carbon fibre materials, and dispensing/application of adhesive.

It brings 3 m/sec lay-up speed to placement of materials in wind turbine blade skin, spar cap, and sheer web moulds, with laser- and vision-based wrinkle detection in cross or longitudinal directions. Depending on the laminate schedule, the system is said to reduce lay-up time 85% on a 45 m wind turbine blade.

Programmed off line, the computer numerical control (CNC) system consists of a gantry system with multi-axis end effectors capable of manipulating spray heads and adhesive applicators, as well as tooling for spooling and placing materials.

After application of gel-coat with spray-head tooling, a ply-generator with a ten-roll magazine of material cuts and dispenses plies to the lay-up end effector on the gantry.

The lay-up end effector spools up the material supplied by the ply generator. As the fabric is paid out onto the mould, a pair of articulating powered brushes smoothes it to the tool surface. The lay-up system is mechanically repeatable to ±2 mm, with application tolerance of ±5 mm.

Two such gantry systems adjacent to one another can each produce a 45 m wind turbine blade shell half in less than two hours, with half the manual labour of conventional methods.

Quick-cure mould system

MAG has also developed a patent-pending quick-cure mould system utilising its tooling. The moulds are produced using the customer's computer assisted design (CAD) data.

The system yields a finished blade to spec with each cycle. It can be infused with resin in an hour, followed by a two-hour cure, about half the normal time. Like the lay-up system, the infusion/curing system includes process control metrics for resin metering, temperatures and blocked channels, with alarm limits.

On the finishing side of wind turbine blade automation, MAG is introducing a five-axis machining system for root drilling/milling/sawing.