Robotic Assembly of Aero-Engine Components 2008-01-2305
Transport is a significant contributor to global Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide emissions. The VITAL (Environmentally Friendly Aero Engine) project is an integrated project funded under the European Union Sixth Framework programme that aims to design, manufacture and test the critical technologies required to produce cleaner low noise aero-engines. In particular, it should develop innovative technical solutions to reduce the engine's weight, thereby reducing fuel consumption and hence Carbon Dioxide emission. Prime candidates for weight reduction are the engine casings and structures. One way of achieving this is to move from a casting based manufacturing method to a fabrication method. The use of fabrications for these types of structures is not new and was indeed the standard methodology for older engine types. It was however abandoned in favour of castings due to the high costs associated with the complex fixtures required and the significant manual labour input needed. It is proposed that the use of fabrication could become viable again if a much more automated approach was adopted. This paper describes a novel approach to the automated fabrication of such structures and its application to the assembly of representative parts is presented.