Ply Placement Technology


PlyMatch is a state-of-the-art, innovative technology for the shop floor, that integrates hardware with software, to assist in accurately and correctly placing plies during hand-layup manufacturing.

During manufacture of composite structural components by manual lay-up, it is necessary to position plies of dry or wet fabric or prepreg accurately on a tool, or on preceding plies. Template methods or specialised equipment are often used for this purpose, in order to aid the operator in correctly and accurately locating a ply. Accuracy in ply placement as well as quality assurance regarding the correct ply sequence and orientation are very important factors in the manufacture of high-cost, high-performance composite components.


What does PlyMatch do?

The purpose of the novel Ply Placement Visual Control System is to display together on a screen a live video image of the "real world" that the operator is interacting with, and a computer-generated image of the structure and composite ply being assembled. The operator looks at the screen and aligns the actual ply with its image as drawn by the software.

Watch the system in action by viewing the videos available on the Video Gallery page, while additional pictures are available on the Image Gallery page.

The data for the computer generated drawings of the plies that are displayed correctly in place, may originate from virtually any CAD application, or from our own Laminate Tools software application, for access to additional features. In this way, ply information comes directly from design and may not require any translation or manipulation whatsoever, for use with the system.

Key Benefits

  • suitable for highly curved parts whose surface is not fully visible from one direction
  • tool (mould) can be moved at all times without recalibration
  • can display full draping information, splits, etc., not just the outline.
  • any CAD information can be included in the display (as curves)
  • can be used with internal mould surfaces (eg. the inside of a cylinder)
  • excellent for small parts or small plies
  • can be used to simply prepare templates
  • can be used directly from the design software (Laminate Tools)
  • process can be recorded to hard disk for quality control
  • fully portable
  • low cost to buy
  • near-zero cost to maintain
  • alternative use purely as CMM
  • many customisation options (more sensors, wireless probes, display hardware)

PlyMatch has been the result of a two-year research initiative, involving mainly Anaglyph and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). The contribution of NPL staff with guidance, ideas and the provision of their laboratory facilities has been crucial to the success of the project. Sincere thanks are also due to Combined Composites Technologies (CCT) Ltd, for supplying moulds and testing the system.

International Patents Awarded