Force Feedback for Assembly of Aircraft Structures 2010-01-1872
Variability in composite manufacture and the limitations in positional accuracy of common industrial robots have hampered automation of assembly tasks within aircraft manufacturing. One way to handle geometry variations and robot compliancy is to use force control. Force control technology utilizes a sensor mounted on the robot to feedback force data to the controller system so instead of being position driven, i.e. programmed to achieve a certain position with the tool, the robot can be programmed to achieve a certain force. This paper presents an experimental case where a compliant rib is aligned to multiple surfaces using force feedback and an industrial robot system from ABB. Two types of ribs where used, one full size carbon fiber rib, and one smaller metal replica for evaluation purposes. The alignment sequence consisted of several iterative steps and a search procedure was implemented within the robot control system. The technology has the potential to lessen the need for dedicated tooling, reduce the need for traditional workspace calibration and can be used in several other applications, such as pin and socket type assemblies found in pylons or landing gear or “part to part” assemblies such as leading edge ribs to spar.