Automation of IFOG coil winding process for cost reduction, quality control and performance enhancements will be covered. The results of a program to develop an automation testbed are presented. The program developed a prototype quadrupole winding suitable for testing a variety of winding automation mechanisms. The effort to develop and test automation techniques is discussed. This effort will serve as a basis for Optelecom's continuing winding automation effort under the ManTech program. The ongoing effort under the ManTech program will be discussed.
Optical fiber gyro coils are commonly wound in a quadrupole pattern to reduce errors associated with thermal gradients and vibration. The quadrupole pattern, which is accomplished by beginning at the center of a fiber length and winding alternately from two feed reels each containing half the length, requires a complex winding machine configuration. Additional constraints on gyro coil winding are: the fiber must be wound at very low tension; the winding precision must be flawless; and winding layer transitions must be made in a way which does not degrade winding precision or induce sharp bends in the fiber. In order to satisfy all of the constraints, gyro coils are currently wound by skilled winding machine operators, using hand held implements to make small corrections to the winding produced by the machine. This painstaking manual process is costly and allows undocumented variances in the process, which can become a reliability concern. In work reported here, steps were taken to: provide machine functions required to produce a quadruple-pattern-wound gyro coil; eliminate hand contact associated with transfer between the two feed reels; maintain a consistent low tension during all stages of the winding; automated the correlated motions of product spool rotation and product spool axial traverse for maintaining a constant fiber feed angle; and develop fiber guides which reduce the requirement for manual corrections to the winding. The fiber guide studies investigated low- friction contact surfaces held in light sliding contact with fiber just behind the point of first contact with the wound coil.