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Composites 26 (1995) 669-673

•UTTERWORTH © 1995 Elsevier Science Limited

~] E I N E M A N N Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved

Application of Taguchi method for process

enhancement of on-line consolidation

S.K. Mazumdar and S.V. Hoa*

Concordia Center for Composites, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Concordia
University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada HG3 1MB
(Received January 1994; revised 1 December 1994)

During laser assisted processing of thermoplastic composites, the individual effects of laser power, tape
speed and consolidation pressure on the interply bond strength cannot be easily separated unless a large
number of experiments is carried out. Because the properties of an end product depend upon the selec-
tion of processing conditions, it is essential that the conditions under which a well consolidated part is
obtained should be defined. To investigate the effects of individual process parameters from a minimum
number of tests, the Taguchi method is applied. For this investigation, PEEK/carbon fibre (APC-2)
thermoplastic composite rings were manufactured by a thermoplastic tape winding process at selected
conditions, and the influence of dominant process parameters on interply bond strength was evaluated.
The influence of three dominant factors, namely laser power, consolidation pressure and tape speed, on
bond strength were investigated. The experimental design involved using L9 orthogonal arrays, and the
percentage contribution of each factor to the quality of bonding was estimated by the ANOVA technique.

(Keywords: composites manufacturing; Taguchi method; PEEK/carbon composites; on-line consolidation)

INTRODUCTION experiments becomes 27 (128), which will increase the

cost of the experiments.
In the manufacture of a composite component, several
Techniques such as fractional factorial design are used
processing variables influence the performance of the
to simplify the design of experiments. Fractional facto-
product. The technique of defining and investigating all
rial design investigates only a fraction of all the possible
possible conditions in an experiment involving multiple
combinations. This approach saves considerable time
factors is known as the design of experiments. In the old
and money but requires rigorous mathematical treat-
days it was believed that the scientifically correct way to
ment, both in the design of the experiment and in the
conduct an experiment was to vary just one factor at a
analysis of the results, to correctly understand the
time, holding everything else fixed. Thus for a full facto-
process. Each experimenter may design a different set of
rial design, the number of possible designs N is:
fractional factorial experiments. Therefore, a systematic
N = L m (1) approach to determine the effect of process parameters
on the quality of end product is helpful. Herein lies
where L = number of levels for each factor and m = Taguchi's contribution to the science of the design of
number of factors. experiments. He simplified and standardized the frac-
Thus, if the quality of a given product depends on tional factorial designs using a special set of orthogonal
three factors, A, B, and C, and each factor is to be tested arrays. According to Taguchi's experimental design, only
at three levels, the equation (1) indicates 33 (27) possible a minimum of 8 experiments instead of 128 experiments
design configurations. It means the experimenter has to for seven factors at two levels are required to get enough
conduct 27 tests to get enough information about the information about the process. Detailed explanations of
process. As the number of factors or number of levels Taguchi methodology can be found in refs 1-4.
increases, the total number of tests also increases. For For manufacturing processes where a large number
example, if an engineer wants to determine the effect of factors influence the final outcome, the Taguchi
of seven factors at two levels then the total number of approach can be utilized to arrive at the best parameters
for the optimum design configuration with the least
number of analytical investigations. Therefore the
* To whom correspondence should be addressed Taguchi method has great potential in the area of low

COMPOSITES Volume 26 Number 9 1995 669

Taguchi method for process enhancement: S.K. Mazumdar and S. V Hoa

cost composites manufacturing and materials processing.

In spite of this, use of statistical techniques in the area Beamdelivery ~ Aircylinder
of composites manufacturing is lacking. Wilkins et al. 5 system Consolidated

used the Taguchi method for property and process ~_~ laminate Mandrel

enhancement of a resin transfer moulding (RTM) Laserbeam.1

~ Roller
Recently several researchers have addressed various I Incoming Contact
aspects of thermoplastic tape laying and tape winding
processes. Beyeler and Guceri 6, Grove 7. Nejhad s and
Anderson and Colton 9 have developed models for the LaserHead
prediction of temperature history for a known amount \
of heat supply and known tape speed for a tape laying
operation. Other researchers 1°-~4have studied the experi-
mental aspects of thermoplastic tape winding. Beyeler et Cooler
al. 1° discussed the feasibility of laser processing by
producing several rings using Ryton AC 40-60 prepreg ~ PoweCont
r roller
tapes. Hauber and his co-worker 11,12used robots and hot
nitrogen gas for the manufacture of circular cylinders.
Figure 1 Schematicdiagram of the laser assisted thermoplastic tape
Werdermann et al. 13 designed and fabricated an on-line winding process
consolidation facility for the manufacture of circular
rings and short tubes for thermoplastic composites. They are shown in Figure 2. A 65 W CO2 laser having a wave-
used infra-red and hot nitrogen gas for heating the pre- length of 10.6/an (MPB Technologies) was used for
impregnated tow. Carpenter and Colton 14 used hot air processing the composites. The experimental set-up used
as a heat source for the fabrication of circular rings. The for manufacturing the rings is described in detail in ref.
major emphasis in these works ~°q4 was on the design and 20. In the tape winding process the three dominant
development of an experimental set-up and the determi- processing parameters are laser power, tape speed and
nation of quality of consolidation by optical microscopic consolidation pressure. By changing the laser power and
study. None of the above researchers 1°-14experimentally tape speed, the temperature history and thus quality of
determined the temperature history, process induced the part can be changed.
deformations, crystallinity or quality of the bond. For the present investigation, 10-ply rings were manu-
Mazumdar and Hoa 15-18performed qualitative analy- factured at selected processing parameters. Mazumdar 2°
ses of the effects of dominant process parameters, such characterized the interfacial ply bonding of ring speci-
as the amount of heat supply, tape speed and consoli-
dation pressure, on the temperature history, process
induced deformation, crystallinity and quality of consol-
idation for laser and hot nitrogen gas aided processing.
Agarwa119 studied the effect of laser power on crys-
tallinity, void content, temperature distribution and
interlaminar bond quality for a constant tape speed of
15.4 mm s-l. The above works lack any quantitative
analysis on the effect of process parameters on bond
quality. This paper emphasizes the quantitative analysis
of the influence of dominant process parameters on bond
strength. The study provides important information and
guidelines for the thermoplastic tape winding process,
and determines the percentage contribution of individ-
ual parameters to the bond quality.

The present study is performed to fulfil the following two
1. to use a statistical method for determining the
optimum condition; and
2. to estimate the contribution of individual process
parameters, such as laser power, consolidation pres-
sure and tape speed, to the quality of the bond.

APC-2 tape (ICI Fiberite) with a 6.35 mm width and
0.125 mm thickness was used to manufacture 146 mm
diameter rings using a thermoplastic tape winding tech-
nique. A schematic diagram for manufacturing an APC-
2 ring is shown in Figure 1. Photographs of the set-up l~gmre2 Photographs from back and front of the experimentalset-up

670 COMPOSITES Volume 26 Number 9 1995

Taguchi method for process enhancement: S.K. Mazumdar and S.V. Hoa

mens using a short beam shear (SBS) test, a double 60 W (A3), 151.4 kN m -l (B3), 13.0 mm s-1 (C2)
cantilever curved beam (DCCB) test and a fracture For the present case only one experiment at each of
surface study by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). the above conditions was performed to determine the
They found that the SBS test is sensitive to interply main effects o f individual processing parameters. The
bonding and can easily detect differences in the interply optimum condition is identified by studying the main
bond quality. Therefore, in the present case SBS tests effects of each of the factors.
were conducted for quality control purposes.
Analysis of results
IMPLEMENTATION OF TAGUCHI METHOD As described above, tings were manufactured at spec-
ified conditions and the results of the SBS tests, in terms
Designing the experiment of a quality characteristic Y, were measured as shown
Experimental design involves defining all the possible below:
conditions in an experiment involving multiple factors.
An experimental design must satisfy two'objectives. In Yl -- 25.66 MPa, Y2 = 28.06 MPa Y3 = 20.65 MPa
the first, the number o f trials is calculated and in the Y4 35.09 MPa,
TM Y5 = 29.79 MPa Y6 = 29.15 MPa
second, the conditions for each trial are specified.
Y7 -- 35.66 MPa, Y8 = 35.73 MPa Y9 = 39.57 MPa
Taguchi developed several sets of orthogonal arrays
(OAs) for designing experiments with various factors and
levels. In the present case three factors at three levels are These results were recorded in the far tight column of
studied, as listed in Table 1. Three levels are selected the OA (Figure 3). Since there was only one test for each
when it is suspected that the influence of a factor on the condition, the results were recorded in one column. For
result can be non-linear. F o r the present case, an L9 om, some trial conditions such as experiment numbers 4 and
as shown in Figure 3, will be suitable for experimental 7, multiple tests were performed. Experiments 4 and 7
design I. There are nine independent conditions in an L9. were selected for multiple runs because they were close
These conditions are described by the numbers in the to the optimum conditions. The standard deviation for
rows. Experiments were performed at laser powers of 40, experiment number 4 with two test runs was found to
50 and 60 W, consolidation pressures of 50.4, 100.8 and be 0.564 and that for experiment number 7 with three
151.3kN m -l, and tape speeds o f 6.42, 13.0 and 27.0 m m test runs was found to be 1.773. Once the main effects
s -~. Here consolidation pressure is measured in terms o f are known, then new levels for control factors are
load per unit width o f the laminate, with the assumption selected to locate the best condition for higher perfor-
that there is linear contact between the consolidation mance: The results for the new levels are presented in
roller and laminate 2°. F o r clarity, the experimental ref. 20.
conditions o f Figure 3 can be explained as follows: T o speed up analysis, Taguchi has provided some key
procedures which are used here. When these steps are
Experiment No. 1: strictly followed by different individuals performing the
analysis, they are likely to arrive at the same conclusions.
40 W (AI), 50.4 kN m -1 (B0, 6.42 mm sl (Ct)
Experiment No. 2: Computation of average performance
40 W (A0, 100.8 k N m -1 (B2), 13.0 mm s t (C2) To compute the average performance of factor A at
Experiment No. 3: level 1, i.e. At at 40 W laser power, we add the results
40 W (A0, 151.3 k N m -1 (B3), 27.0 mm s 1 (C3) for trials including factor A~, and then divide by the
number of such trials. For A~, we look in the column for
Experiment No. 4: A and find that level 1 occurs in experiments numbers
50 W (A2), 50.4 kN m -t (B0, 13.0 mm s-1 ((:2) 1, 2 and 3. The average effect of At is therefore calcu-
Expertment No. 5: lated by adding the results Y of these trials as follows:
50 W (A2), 100.8 kN m -t (B2), 27.0 mm s-t (C3)
Experiment No. 6:
ors A B C Y
50 W (A2), 151.4 kN m -1 (B3), 6.42 m m s l (CO Laser Pressure Tape SBS t e s t
Trials ~1 Power Speed results (MPa)
Experiment No. 7:
60 W (A3), 50.4 k N m -1 (Bl), 27.0 mm s"l ((73) 1 25.66
2 28.00
Experiment No. 8:
60 W (A3), 100.8 k N m -l (B2), 6.42 m m s a (Ci) 3 20.65

Experiment No. 9: 2 35.09

T ~ l e 1 Control factors and their levels for thermoplastic tape 3 29.79

winding process 1 29.15

Factor Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 3 35.66

1 35.73
Laser power (W) 40 50 ~ 60
2 39.57
pressure (kN m 1) 50.4 100.8 151.3
Tape speed
(mm "l) 6.42 13.0 27.0 Fig~e 3 An experimental lay-out using L9 array

COMPOSIJ'ESMolume26Number 9 1995 671

Taguchi method for process enhancement: S.K. Mazumdar and S.V. Hoa
Alav = (]I1 + ]I2 + }'3)/3 = (25.66 + 28.00 + 20.65)/3 Quality characteristics
= 24.77 For a product obtained by thermoplastic tape
winding, the bigger the value of bond strength is, the
The average effects of other factors are computed in a better the quality of the product. Thus from Figure 4 the
similar manner: A3 (60 W), Bl (50.4 kN m -1) and C2 (13.0 mm s-l) combi-
nation is likely to produce the best result and therefore
A2av : (Y4 + Y5 + Y6)/3 : 31.34 represents the optimum condition for the present case.
A3av = (Y7 + Y8 + Y9)/3 = 36.99 From Figure 4 it can be observed that the influence of
B~av = (Y~ + Y4 + Y7)/3 = 32.14 tape speed on bond strength is non-linear. The exact
trend of the curve is not known. More tests at 60 W laser
B2av = (Y2 + }'5 + Y8)/3 = 31.17
power and at tape speeds in the range 13.0-27.0 mm s-l
B3av = (Y3 + Y6 + Y9)/3 = 29.79 are needed to locate the optimum conditions. It is
Clay = (Yl + Y6 + Y8)/3 = 30.18 obvious from the results of Figure 4 that to further
C2av = (Y2 + Y4 + Y9)/3 = 34122 improve the quality of laser p~ocessed parts, one should
study the effects of laser power above 60 W and tape
C3av = (Y3 + Ys + Y7)/3 = 28.70
speeds higher than 13.0 mm s-l. In the present case, tests
are not conducted at a laser power higher than 60 W
The above values are plotted in Figure 4 to show the because of the limitations of the equipment. This infor-
main effects of each factor on the quality of the bond. mation is very useful in deciding about further sets of
It is clear from the figure that the increase in laser power experiments for obtaining higher performance.
increases the bond strength, whereas effect of consoli-
dation pressure in the range 50.4-151.3 kN m -! is negli- Relative contributions of variables
gible. The influence of tape speed on bond strength is
The relative contribution of processing parameters is
found to be non-linear, and the quality of interlaminar
established by comparing their variances. The analysis
properties is found to be poor at lower and higher tape
speeds. of variance (ANOVA) technique is used for this purpose.
Calculations of different terms of ANOVA are omitted
The reason for the increase in interply bond strength
here. For a detailed study on ANOVA refer to ref. 1.
with the increase in laser power is that the higher laser
Results of ANOVA in terms of per cent contributions
power causes a higher temperature at the consolidation
of each process parameter are expressed as:
point. Higher processing temperatures would result in
lower polymer viscosity and higher intermolecular diffu-
PA = 79.08%, PB = 2.72% Pc = 17.05%
sion, which will cause a greater degree of resin flow and
molecular interdiffusion, and will result in better inter-
ply bond properties 18'2°. The effect of variation in consol- where PA, PB and Pc are the per cent contribution by
laser power, consolidation pressure and tape speed
idation pressure in the range 50.4-151.3 kN m -1 on bond
strength is negligible. The reason for this could be that
The results show that the laser power contributes
the degree of intimate contact is not affected in this pres-
79.08% to the development of bond strength, and there-
sure range 2°. Decreasing the consolidation pressure to 25
kN m ~ decreases the degree of intimate contact and thus fore laser power should be controlled properly. The
contribution of consolidation pressure to the develop-
affects the bond strength 2°. Because there may be suffi-
ment of bond strength is only 2.72%, and therefore vari-
cient wetting between plies in the consolidation pressure
ations in consolidation pressure during processing would
range 50.4-151.3 kN m ~, variation in interply bond
not significantly affect the quality of bond. The influence
strength is found to be minimal. The effect of tape speed
on the SBS test results is found to be non-linear. of tape speed during on-line consolidation is found to be
Mazumdar 2°divided the tape speed into three categories;
In.most cases variation in the quality of a product is
low speed range (thermoplastic degrades), medium speed
unavoidable because of variation in process parameters
range (good consolidation) and high speed range (poor
during manufacturing. This variation can be brought to
wetting). Because of polymer degradation at lower speed
a minimum by understanding the effects of process para-
and insufficient wetting at higher speed, interply bond
strength is reduced 2°. meters. In the present case, laser power has the highest
influence on the variation of the properties in a tape-
wound product. Therefore during thermoplastic tape
winding, the variation in laser power should be mini-
40 mized to achieve consistent quality of the end product.
The present results are found to be very helpful in
35 designing processing equipment for manufacturing
/ --o-- __~ o/
complex composite components by thermoplastic tape
/ % winding21. In the fabrication of non-axisymmetric
shapes, tape speed varies for a constant mandrel speed.
For example, during manufacturing of rings of elliptical
rn cross-sections with a semi-major axis of 7.8 cm and a
semi-minor axis of 3.9 cm, it is found that the tape speed
I I I I t I I I I varies from 2 to 16.2 cm s1 during one revolution of the
A1 A2 A3 B1 B2 B3 C1 C2 C3 mandrel at a constant mandrel rotation of 10 rev min l
(ref. 21). With the change in tape speed, laser power
Figere 4 Main effects of factors on SBS test results cannot be kept constant for uniform bonding between

672 COMPOSITES Volume 26 Number 9 1995

Taguchi method for process enhancement: S.K. Mazumdar and S.V. Hoa

layers. To solve this problem, either the laser power to determine the per cent contribution of each process
should be varied to compensate for changes in tape speed parameter on the quality of bond. The optimum condi-
or the tape speed should be held constant to prevent the tion for the tape winding process was thus estimated.
variation in laser power. Present results show that the It was found that bond strength increases with an
laser power should be kept at a maximum level (60 W increase in laser power. The effect of consolidation pres-
in this case) for higher bond quality. Reduction in laser sure on bond strength was found to be negligible. The
power will decrease the bond strength. Therefore in the influence of tape speed on the quality of bond was found
production of complex shapes such as elliptical rings by to be non-linear, with the highest strength at a medium
the tape winding technique, variation in laser power tape speed. It was estimated that laser power has a major
should be prevented and tape speed should remain contribution to the improvement of bond quality. The
constant at an optimum value. Mazumdar and Hoa 21 per cent contributions to the enhancement of bond
have designed and developed a thermoplastic tape quality of laser power, consolidation pressure and tape
winding machine for the fabrication of non-axisymmet- speed were found to be 79.08, 2.72 and 17.05%, respec-
tic composite parts using a laser as the heating source. tively.
During the manufacture of non-axisymmetric parts,
mandrel speed was varied using a computer controlled REFERENCES
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of mandrel speed for achieving constant tape speed was New York, 1990
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Kraus International Publications, New York, 1986
3 Barker, T.B. 'Engineering Quality by Design: Interpreting the
Projection of optimum performance Taguchi Approach', Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, 1990
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optimum condition for interply bond strength. The 5 Wilkins, D.J., Karbhari, V.M. and Steenkamer, D.A. Proc.
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6 Beyeler, E.P., and Guceri, S.I.J. Heat Transfer 1988, 110, 424
because it was not among the trial runs performed for 7 Grove, S.M. Composites 1988, 19, 367
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condition is determined by the following relation1: stress analysis of in-situ thermoplastic composite filament winding'
PhD Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University
Yopt = T/N + (A3av - T/N) + (Blav - T/N) of Delaware, Newark, USA, 1992
9 Anderson, B.J., and Colton, J.S.J. Compos. Mater. 1990, 24, 150
+ ( C 2 a v - T/N) (2) l0 Beyeler, E., Philips, W. and Guceri, S.I.J. Thermoplastic Compos.
Mater. 1988, 1, 107
= average performance + contributions of A3, BL and C2 11 Hauber, D.E. and Hill, L.A. 'Automated fiber placement of ther-
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In this case: Dearborn, MI, 1987
13 Werdermann, C., Friedrich, K., Cirino, M. and Pipes, R.B.
J. Thermoplastic Compos. Mater. 1989, 2, 293
T = 279.3, N = 9, A3av = 36.99, Blav = 32.14, C2av= 34.22 14 Carpenter, C.E. and Colton, J.S. 'Proc. 38th Int. SAMPE
Symposium', SAMPE, Anaheim, CA, May 1993, p. 205
and therefore 15 Mazumdar, S.K. and Hoa, S.V. 'Proc. 38th Int. SAMPE
Symposium', SAMPE, Anaheim, CA, May 1993, p. 189
ropt z 31.03 + ( 3 6 . 9 9 - 31.03) + (32.14 - 31.03) 16 Mazumdar, S.K. and Hoa, S.V. 'Proc. ICCM-9', University of
Zaragoza, Spain and Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, 1993
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Process. Manufacturing 1993, 26, 115
= 41.28 18 Mazumdar, S.K. and Hoa, S.V. ,L Thermoplastic Compos. Mater.
in press
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20 Mazumdar, S.K. 'Automated manufacturing of composite
CONCLUSIONS components by thermoplastic tape winding and filament winding'
PhD Thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Concordia
The Taguchi method was applied for the experimental University, Montreal, Canada, 1994
design of a thermoplastic tape winding process. Using 21 Mazumdar, S.K. and Hoa, S.V. Mater. Manufacturing Process.
the Taguchi method, only nine experiments were needed 1995, Ill(D, 47

COMPOSITES Volume 26 Number 9 1995 673