The Autometrix Cutting system is a truly innovative product which revolutionized the rolled goods industry. If you need to cut patterns out of rolled goods to manufacture your products, the most efficient way is to cut the patterns with an Autometrix cutting table. Today, manufacturers of everything from tarps to tents to leather coats to aerospace composite parts depend on the Autometrix Cutting system to cut the material they use to manufacture their products.
Autometrix and Innovative Composite Engineering share a unique relationship – I.C.E. is a longstanding customer of Autometrix, and Autometrix is a longstanding customer of I.C.E. The Autometrix cutting system is a central part of our operations here at I.C.E., as we use an Autometrix cutting system to cut 100% of the composite material we use to manufacture our parts including, the main composite structural beam of the Autometrix cutting table, pictured below.
For over 20 years, I.C.E. has supplied Autometrix Precision Cutting Systems with the composite structural beams for their cutting tables. We designed and manufactured the very first composite beam for Autometrix back in 2001 and this first composite cutting table was installed at I.C.E. We cut the beam’s material with rulers and razor blades, which is what the company had to use before Autometrix. This table is still in use today!
The Autometrix cutting system is an integral part of I.C.E.’s operations. Composite material is very expensive and it’s crucial that we use as much carbon fiber out of a sheet as possible with minimal waste. Autometrix is not only a manufacturer of the world’s premiere cutting table, it’s also a software company through its main offering Patternsmith. Patternsmith is a software platform that’s used to program the cutting table to cut patterns of material.
Once our engineer has finished the design of a composite part, he uses CAD to translate the 3D shape into 2D patterns which he then uploads to Patternsmith. Patternsmith uses mathematical modeling to nest the patterns onto a sheet of composite material in a way that creates the least possible waste.
Pictured below are the patterns below for an Autometrix beam. The red lines outline the patterns which will be cut out of the material. Once we are ready to cut patterns for this part, we rack the material on a roller at the end of the table, roll it out on the table, hit the vacuum button so it’s sucked against the table, load the patterns onto the patternsmith program, hit the go button on the table, and then let the machine work its magic.
What sets the Autometrix cutting machine apart from the rest is the speed and precision of the cuts. Watch this video below as the Autometrix machine cuts the material. If we had to cut the material by hand, this process would take 10 times the time that’s needed to do it now. Cutting by hand would also generate a substantial amount of waste from mismeasurements and poor cuts. The speed, accuracy, and ease of use of the Autometrix cutting table is a key ingredient to the success of manufacturing every composite part we make.
We manufacture the Autometrix beams using our 3D bladder molding process. I.C.E. is an industry-leading expert in the design and manufacturing of 3D hollow composite shapes. Below is a walk-through of our manufacturing process for the Autometrix structural beam.
What started off as two-dimensional plies of carbon are now shaped into an incredibly strong and incredibly light support beam. As you can see in the video below, the Autometrix beam is strong enough to endure the harshest industrial conditions, while being incredibly light.
The Autometrix beam highlights some of I.C.E.’s core competencies.
I asked a couple questions of Jonathan Palmer, CEO of Autometrix
Why did you go with composite material for the Autometrix beam?
Strength with limited weight. Back in the early 2000s, we were looking forward to making wider and wider machines for cutting much wider materials (we now offer cutting widths up to 151 inches, so more than double what is common in the composite industry). We didn’t want to see the weight of our machine rise or the stiffness fall off too much on those machines. The composite beam has meant that the biggest driver in gantry weight is actually the extra length of high flex cables. Motor drive systems, etc. all stay the same on the wide systems.
When will you need to replace the composite beam on your cutting tables?
The only beams we’ve replaced on machines are when we have a bonded rail delaminate. Even then, the carbon beam itself is usually fine, and we often remachine them and rebond new rails.
How many beams has I.C.E. supplied Autometrix?
ICE has produced close to 1000 beams for us.
How would you describe the quality of the composite beams you receive from I.C.E.?
Always good – but what I’d really say is that ICE continues to be the kind of partner we need for a product like this. Clear communication out of QA means we know when there is an issue and we know what to watch for when inspecting. Whenever there’s an issue with a beam that means we can’t use it, ICE always stands behind the product.
Autometrix has been a lead innovator in its industry since the company’s inception. On the cutting edge, one might say. What’s next?
The last couple of years have required a lot of engineering time to overcome supply chain issues, but while we’re handling that, we’ve taken the opportunity to take control of some underlying parts of our products and build a platform for future development. We’ve got some big plans for machines with an expanded set of tooling options beyond just rolling and dragging knives. At the heart of those machines will still be a composite structure!
Manufacturers (us included!) all around the world trust and rely on the Autometrix Cutting System to manufacture their products. We are proud to be their supplier for a critical component of their amazing cutting tables.