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LEL - Lightweight Structures Laboratory

Fiber Placement Machine - production of (convex/concave) large-curvature parts, using pre-impregnated composite fibers

Lightweight structures are essential for the competitiveness of several industrial sectors, such as aerospace, automotive, oil & gas, and wind-turbine blades. They are also important for other industries: defense, infrastructure, marine and recreation, among others.

The Lightweight Structures Laboratory was founded by the Institute for Technological Research of the State of São Paulo (IPT), at the Technology Park of São José dos Campos, Brazil, in order to create in this area an integrated facility for research, and fulfill the demand of companies in Brazil and abroad.

The laboratory has a qualified research team, prepared to work together with companies in R&D projects related to metallic structures (especially aluminum and titanium), composite structures (especially carbon fiber), as well as hybrid structures. The technical focus is on the complete development cycle, including design, analysis, simulation, prototyping, testing, manufacturing viability, and maintenance. These projects may also include partnerships with universities and other research institutes.


  • LEL - main equipments


- Clean Room (Class 9, 1600 m²):
  • Automated Fiber Placement Machine (Ø 3 m x 4 m)
  • Automated Tape Laying Machine (12 m x 4 m)
  • Equipment for Infusion, Resin Transfer Molding, and Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding processes (1.1 m x 0.6 m x 0.4 m)
  • Hydraulic hot press for thermoplastic composite material molding (50 t; stroke of 300 mm; platen size of 500 mm x 500 mm; 450 °C)
  • Infrared oven for thermoplastic composite parts (500 mm x 500 mm x 500 mm; 450 °C)
  • Laser projection equipment for material layup
  • Automatic cutting equipment for fiber fabrics (3 m x 1.8 m)
  • Hand layup capability
  • Crane (10 t; 16 m span; 35 m length)

- Outside the Clean Room:
  • Two autoclaves (Ø 1.0 m x 1.5 m; 450 °C & Ø 1.5 m x 4.5 m; 250 °C), both with a maximum pressure of 11.7 bar (170 psi)
  •  Freezer for prepreg material and resin (4.85 m x 3.7 m x 2.7 m; -18 °C)


  • Friction Stir Processing Machine (5-axis, 30 kW spindle, maximum axial force of 80 kN)
  • Hot press for Superplastic Forming (150 t / 1000 °C/ 40 bar)
  • Milling CNC equipment
  • Lathe CNC equipment

Workshop area:

  • Dynamic testing: MTS machines of 100 kN (temperature-control chamber of up to 315 °C) and 250 kN, both with hydraulic grips
  • Static testing: Instron machine of 100 kN (temperature-control chamber in the range of -150 °C to 350 °C)
  • Environmental conditioning equipment (-72 °C to 180 °C; humidity range of 10% to 98%; working space of 1100 mm x 950 mm x 950 mm)
  • Precision composite plate saw of up to 1.25 m x 1.25 m, and maximum thickness of 40 mm
  • Automatic 3D coordinate measuring machine (900 mm x 1600 mm x 800 mm)
  • Laser Tracker measurement system
  • Residual stress measurement system
  • Photoelasticity equipment
  • Rockwell & Barcol hardness testing machines
  • Vickers & Knoop microhardness testing machines
  • 3D measurement opto-digital microscope (amplification between 35x and 9000x)
  • Materials inverted microscope (amplification between 20x and 3000x)
  • Metallographic specimen preparation equipment (grinders, polishers, cutters, etc.)
  • Ultrasonic Phased Array equipment for internal failure analysis
  • Eddy Current equipment for internal failure analysis
  • Digital oven (150 l; 250 °C)
  • Muffle furnace (1200 °C; 200 mm x 200 mm x 250 mm)
  • Roughness measuring equipment

Office area:
  • Work area for up to 45 people, including visiting researchers from universities, research institutes, and companies
  • Auditorium for up to 45 people
  • CAD / CAE software


  • BNDES ( The Brazilian Development Bank)
  • Finep – Innovation and Research
  • FAPESP ( São Paulo Research Foundation)
  • Secretariat for Economic, Science, Technology and Innovation Development – State of São Paulo
  • São José dos Campos Municipal Government


Assessment of automated fiber placement coverage generation algorithms
Wellington Lombardo Nunes de Mello; Rynaldo Zanotele Hemerly de Almeida; Alex Camilli Bottene

Research and development on composites : a strategy to overcome technological challenges
Marco Antonio Grecco D'Elia; Alex Camilli Bottene; Luiz Eduardo Lopes

Experimental evaluation of automated fiber placement manufacturing parameters
Alex Camilli Bottene; Wellington Lombardo Nunes de Mello; Rynaldo Zanotele Hemerly de Almeida

Development of complex shape composite structures – An automated fiber placement application
Alex Camilli Bottene; Wellington Lombardo Nunes de Mello; Rynaldo Zanotele Hemerly de Almeida; Priscila Prado Gomes

Related subjects


Technical papers

  • Lightweight Structures Laboratory
    Tel.: 55 (12) 3905-3354 / 3596