Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering


Industrial Engineering

First Advisor

Matthew C. Frank


This dissertation presents an automated composite fabric layup solution based on a new method to deform fiberglass fabric referred to as shifting. A layup system was designed and implemented using a large robotic gantry and custom end-effector for shifting. Layup tests proved that the system can deposit fabric onto two-dimensional and three-dimensional tooling surfaces accurately and repeatedly while avoiding out-of-plane deformation. A process planning method was developed to generate tool paths for the layup system based on a geometric model of the tooling surface. The approach is analogous to Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machining, where Numerical Control (NC) code from a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) model is generated to drive the milling machine. Layup experiments utilizing the proposed method were conducted to validate the performance. The results show that the process planning software requires minimal time or human intervention and can generate tool paths leading to accurate composite fabric layups. Fiberglass fabric samples processed with shifting deformation were observed for meso-scale deformation. Tow thinning, bending and spacing was observed and measured. Overall, shifting did not create flaws in amounts that would disqualify the method from use in industry. This suggests that shifting is a viable method for use in automated manufacturing. The work of this dissertation provides a new method for the automated layup of broad width composite fabric that is not possible with any available composite automation systems to date.


Copyright Owner

Siqi Zhu



File Format


File Size

100 pages