3D Printed Water Cooled Tow Guide for Fiber Placement Machine


Reference #: 01464

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for 3D Printed Passive Heat Exchanging Tow Guide with for Fiber Placement Machine


This invention solves a problem with Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) with thermoplastic tape materials. Presently, AFP with thermoplastics such as PEEK, PAEK, require use of high-power laser heating systems. The temperature required to heat this material enough to manufacture is 700-900 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is too high for standard tow guides (scoops), and thus the heat must be concentrated to a small area known as the "nip point." This concentrated heat is often greater than the service temperatures of many of the materials in modern AFP heads, leading to many issues in the heat management of the machine.

Invention Description: 

A scoop is a device that guides material being placed onto a mold by an Automated Fiber Placement machine. This guide also acts as a heat shield for the material. The device outlined is a 3D printed scoop that has built in channels for fluid flow so that the device can be actively cooled for the processing of materials with ultra-high temperature matrix systems without degrading the scoop or allowing too-early heating of the material in the AFP head. The edge of the scoop also incorporates a broken surface to allow the material to gradually come up to temperature nearest to the layup.

Potential Applications:

The Fiber Placement Machine market is growing rapidly and the technology is becoming more widespread. Companies like Boeing, NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin use this technology to manufacture their structures.

Advantages and Benefits:

This invention attacks several issues in the processing of materials with ultra-high temperature matrix systems. The passive cooling prevents warpage and scoop degradation reducing maintenance. In addition it alleviates problems of too-early heading across the roller while allowing for a gradual increase in temperature close to layup.

Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
3D Printed Water Cooled Tow Guide for Fiber Placement Machine Utility United States 17/386,790   7/28/2021     Filed
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Christopher Sacco
Andrew Anderson
Automated Fiber Placement
Tow Guide
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