Research project: "RoboFill"
Research area: Manufacturing automation, lightweight structures
Supported by: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (LuFo)
In collaboration with: 3D ICOM
Start of the project: August 2016
End of project: July 2019


Sandwich structures with honeycomb cores are widely used in lightweight construction. In aircraft production they are used for example in tail units, wings and interiors. The material properties can be flexibly adapted to the requirements. The choice of materials for core and cover layers has a global influence. The local adjustment of properties is achieved in particular by filling individual honeycombs or areas with potting compound. Areas of application of this process are diverse; In addition to adjusting stiffness, edge seals are also created or additional structural elements are integrated (so-called inserts such as cable ducts or threaded bushings).

The potting compound is often introduced manually by spatula. Some manufacturers offer automatic filling systems, but these are limited to two-dimensional structures and follow fixed programs and are therefore only suitable for series production. The manufacturer 3D ICOM also offers three-dimensional sandwich structures, and the products are also subject to a wide variety of variants and frequent design changes. In extreme cases, one can speak of production with a batch size of one. The goal of the “RoboFill” research project was the flexible and automated introduction of potting compound into complex sandwich structures. Key aspects here were the sensory detection of the components and honeycombs as well as the automatic generation of a filling strategy based on existing design data. The process was evaluated and optimized on a demonstrator system at the institute.

Contact person at the institute: Martin Harnisch, M. Sc.