Browse Publications Technical Papers 2011-01-2534
2011-10-18

Modular Parallel Kinematics Intelligent Assembly Automation 2011-01-2534

In all modern automated assembly it is essential to be able to accommodate all kind of processes like surface detection, drilling, countersinking, orbital drilling, cleaning, sealing, and assembly, without having to develop special equipment for each and every application, and it is also important that an automated system can be adapted to various shapes and materials on large parts, such as wings and fuselages, as well as smaller parts like flaps and doors.
Historically this type of assembly has always required large, heavy-duty, expensive machines designed and built with (and for) high accuracy over the entire work envelope and consequentially such large machines been generally very complex and normally financially and physically impossible to build with more than one spindle/assembly tool.
To meet above challenges the aerospace industry must adapt automotive thinking using multiple process units such as articular arm robots, but in contrary to automotive the processes in aerospace are highly accurate and have to be performed in tough materials like composite and titanium, and for such operations conventional articular arm robots used in the automotive industry is not suitable.
The new Exechon Parallel Kinematics technology is a standard modular "machine tool robotics system" combining the flexibility and dynamics of articular arm robots with the accuracy and stiffness of CNC machines. This new patented design gives these modules extreme mobility and, in combination with adapting technologies such as cross lasers and force sensors, it can perform accurate agile assembly over very large areas without the use of accurate large expensive heavy-duty structures.
The modular system is also designed especially to achieve the goal of adapting all kind of standard "off the shelf technologies" incorporating such technologies in automated aerospace systems using automotive thinking with standard tool changers, etc.
It has been a tradition within aerospace to use multiple processing heads meaning that a huge end-effector is positioned on a surface, and a complete cycle of drilling, countersinking, cleaning, sealing, and assembly of, e.g., a Hi-Lok® is performed before moving to next position.
However, using above described Exechon modular system with standard tool changers, and automotive thinking where the time to make a tool change is divided by the number of operations per tool, a new way of aerospace assembly is possible.
For example, if the Exechon module uses its high dynamics to drill 100 holes within its work envelope, and then changes tool to a counter sink and perform 100 countersinks, the tool change time shall be divide by 100, and if the tool change time is 10 seconds this operation adds no more than 0,1 seconds to each hole and operation (10/100=0,1), and it's hard even for a multiple processing end-effector to make a tool change in that time.
Further to above, the Exechon modular system has the cost advantages and reliability of articular arm robot systems, and we believe it will contribute to high-quality cost-efficient aerospace assembly.

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