Helmet Preform Machine
- Fully automates the assembly of laminates on a helmet shaped mandrel
- Produces high quality parts
- Faster throughput than manual assembly
- Integrated forming and debulking
- PLC/HMI control
For more information on ARL, visit their website.
Helmet OEMs are under increasing pressure by the Federal Government to reduce unit costs.
Current methods for producing military ballistic protection helmets are extremely labor intensive. Most are fabricated from some type of composite material where flat layers of prepreg are stacked to form the final helmet thickness. Due to the dome contour of the helmets, the prepreg is cut into various petal shapes to minimize the wrinkling that occurs when shaping the prepreg to form the dome. In addition, each layer is rotated relative to the previous one to stagger seams which become weak joints in the final helmet.
The current manual manufacturing processes contribute to the high cost of the helmets and the process also suffers from part inconsistency and material waste.
In a program sponsored by the Army Research Lab(ARL), Accudyne Systems has designed and built a machine that automates the manufacture of military ballistic protection helmets.
The Helmet Preform Machine automates this process of forming and stacking the composite layers for thermoplastic prepregs. A vacuum pick and place devise picks up the appropriate precut ply from a bin. The ply is placed on a solid tool that mimics the shape of the final helmet. A diaphragm is brought down over the precut ply and wraps it around the solid tool. Heat staking(welding) is used to locally bond subsequent plies together at the rim area of the helmet. The solid tool can rotate so that the proper stagger can be achieved with each ply.
The final part produced in this process is a staked preform that has the general shape of finished helmet. This is then placed in a compression molding press for final processing.