Roll ‘n’ Roll is funded by the Research and Innovation Foundation of the Republic of Cyprus under the “ENTERPIRSES” Grant, Call 0618, Program “RESEARCH IN ENTERPRISES” of RESTART 2016-2020. The project was launched in April1st, 2019 and is expected to be completed by March 31st, 2021.
In the world of cutting-edge composite materials, AmaDema has proven itself by introducing NanoWeld®, a revolutionary method of enhancing the characteristics of technical fabrics such as carbon fiber. In the quest for pushing the production of Nanoweld® to fulfil the needs of the modern composites industry, AmaDema Ltd along with PHOEBE Research & Innovation Ltd began the development of a Roll-to-Roll(R2R) modular machine, befittingly named Roll ’n’ Roll. Roll ‘n’ Roll presents an industrial innovative solution for scaling-up NanoWeld® into mass production and thus reaching TRL 9, while at the same time offers a novel industrial solution for Roll-to-Roll (R2R) processing control, which can be further commercialised and implemented in any industrial R2R process line.
A key process in the production of Nanoweld® is the consolidation of the enhancing nano-fabric to the composite material of choice. This consolidation has thus far been performed using Ultrasonic Welding(UW) which for polymers, due to the ultrasonic frequencies, is able to locally increase the mobility of the polymeric material (polymer nano-fabric in the case of NanoWeld®) molecules, resulting in melting points in front of the sonotrode head area. Although UW is a well proven method for the consolidation of different materials, it presents an issue when scaling up. Multiroll sonotrodes have not been yet developed and therefore this crucial sub-process is considered a bottleneck in the mass production of NanoWeld®. The solution to this problem is offered by the development of the Roll’n’Roll module.
At the heart of the Roll’n’Roll module is a machine-learning-based non-linear automatic feedback control system, developed by PHOEBE Research & Innovation Ltd. The use of machine-learning-based non-linear control has been decided due to the very nature of the problem; the underline industrial process (relation of surface temperature to the electric energy input) has a non-linear behavior, which is not described through mathematical formulas. Therefore, the use of classical control strategies that are built on top of linear processes would not suffice; even in the case of linearization of the process around a stability point, the closed-loop system would not offer the required robustness since there is no guarantee that the process state will remain in a pre-defined range. In the case of NanoWeld® processing, as well as many other products in the market, the material “to be processed” does not always have the same characteristics (polymer material, thickness, etc., may vary) and therefore key parameters such as welding temperature, welding force applied and roll speed need to be adjusted. As a result, the PD or PID controls would have to be reset each time to comply with the characteristics of the material “to be processed”. The Roll ‘n’ Roll solution offers the machine continuous training, through which the machine learns how to quickly adapt across the whole of its domain of operation and be able to learn any changes in the process dynamics and adjust the control decisions accordingly during operation. The benefits from such an adaptive system to industrial applications of R2R processing are:
Particularly for NanoWeld® the benefits from such an adaptive system are:
Lastly, taken the trends of the markets that primarily utilize R2R processing for the production of goods (composite materials and organic electronics) whose current size in total exceeds $22 Billion and is expected to grow with a CAGR of 10 to 14% by 2024, the modular design of the Roll’n’Roll machine means that it can be quickly adapted to any existing R2R production line thereby ensuring optimum processing performance without expensive development costs.
Apr: Project Launch
Apr: Initiation of Dissemination Strategy and Implementation
Apr: Kick off Meeting at AmaDema
May: Consortium Technical Meeting 2 at AmaDema
May: Initiation of Technology Mapping and Market Analysis
Jul: Consortium Meeting 3 at AmaDema
Sep: Mechanical Design of Roll n Roll Production Module – Version 1
Nov: Poster Presentation and attendance of 18th International Coating Symposium, Nov 12th to 13th, Germany
Nov: Building of Roll n Roll machine prototype
Dec: Non-linear controller under Development
Jan: First trials of the machine on PID controller
Jan: Abstract Submission, Global Conference on POLYMERS, PLASTICS and COMPOSITES (PPC-2020)
March 31st: Submission of Interim Scientific and Financial Reports | Completion of Deliverables related with Interim Report
June: Familiarization of Roll n Roll machine | Data collection from the operation
July: First controller prototype | Optimization of NanoWeld textile consolidation with Roll n Roll machine