Saab invests in composite centre

Saab has a long history of being at the forefront when it comes to composites. Now, Saab is further consolidating this position with the creation of a composite centre. The centre contains state of the art technology and has been developed to create the most optimal flow possible.

"There are few companies in the aerospace industry with composite production as effective as the one we have at Saab. We have always been at the forefront when it comes to developing new composite technology. Now we have further intensified our commitment by focusing our composite efforts in a composite centre that incorporates state of the art technology, and that is also adapted for the most efficient flow possible," says Kjell Johnsson, Vice President and head of Aerostructures. 


The composite centre includes an automatic tape laying machine that reduces the lay up costs. The machine also reduces material waste. In addition, it provides a time-optimised and quality assured approach in which FOD, Foreign Object Damage, can be avoided in the lay up process.

The machine performs the same procedure as for manual lay up, but the uncut carbon fibre tape is kept on wide rolls. The automatic tape laying machine is programmed to cut and lay up the carbon fibre tape in a particular order to create the part. 

The machine is 13 metres wide and 36 metres long with a working area extending 30 metres in length, more than 5 metres in width and almost one metre in height.

The automatic tape laying machine can lay up more than 15 kg of carbon fibre tape every hour.


To improve efficiency within composites, Saab has undertaken a number of new investments in machinery in recent years. These have included a new cutting machine, a "Hot-Drape-Forming" machine and a new NC trimming machine has been recently installed.


"Composites are the future within commercial aviation, and those who aren't at the forefront in this area will face difficulties competing for future business. It is also extremely positive that we have created a dedicated trial group in the area of composites whose task is simply to try out new technologies with regard to new tools, processes and materials," says Kjell Johnsson. 


Saab is focusing on developing the future of composite technology through projects such as Clean Sky, in which it has a leading role in the subproject Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft together with Airbus. "Saab has always been good staying ahead in the composites field and projects like Clean Sky ensure that we will continue to do so," says Kjell Johnsson.