Browse Publications Technical Papers 2010-01-1867
2010-09-28

Drilling Mixed Stack Materials for the BOEING 787 2010-01-1867

The new combinations such as composites and titanium that are being used on today's new airplanes are proving to be very challenging when drilling holes during manufacturing and assembly operations. Gone are the days of hand drilling with high speed steel drills through soft aluminum structure, after which aluminum rivets would be swaged into those holes with very generous tolerances. The drilling processes today need to use cutter materials hard enough and tough enough to cut through hard metals such as titanium, yet be sharp enough to resistant abrasion and maintain size when drilling through composites. There is a constant search for better cutters and drills that can drill a greater number of holes.
The cost of materials used in today's aircraft is much higher. The cutting tools are more expensive and the hole tolerances are much tighter. With all of these factors taken into account, the consequences of mistakes in the drilling process are an exponential increase to cost of manufacturing the aircraft.
Today's drilling equipment and processes are incorporating technology and computerized intelligence in order to mistake proof and also mitigate the consequences of human errors in what is still a highly labor intensive final assembly process for building airplanes. This presentation will discuss some of the approaches being taken by drilling equipment manufacturers to supply the type of machines needed for assembling today's and tomorrows aircraft.

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