Rapid Prototyping of Production Tooling for the Composite General Aviation Industry 2002-01-1525
Computer numerical control (CNC) robotic machining has demonstrated the capability to manufacture large, unique shapes, which are utilized for fabrication of industrial molds and tooling for composite parts. Single parts as large as 25 m × 4.6 m × 2.9 m (82 ft. × 15 ft. × 9.5 ft.) can be machined from low-density materials by 7-axis CNC robots operating from parallel tracks. This capability demonstrated that rapid prototyping is possible via both limited production and full production tooling/molds being machined from surface and/or solid computer models.
The capability of completely developing a design with computers can now be realized for the aerospace industry. After basic engineering concepts are determined, a general aviation conceptual design may undergo development in a surfacing CAD package. Using this CAD model, CFD simulations may be performed. By employing large CNC robots, tooling for the identical design developed and tested in the computer, may be manufactured with a very high degree of accuracy. Entire fuselage and/or wing tooling sections may be rapidly produced as single pieces.
This paper presents a simple conceptual general aviation aircraft design, developed using CAD software, tested with CFD, and a pattern cut using CNC robots. Aspects of CAD/CFD/CAM will be covered with considerable emphasis on CAM.