Force Controlled Assembly of a Compliant Rib 2011-01-2734
Automation in aerospace industry is often in the form of dedicated solutions and focused on processes like drilling, riveting etc. The common industrial robot has due to limitations in positional accuracy and stiffness often been unsuitable for aerospace manufacturing. One major cost driver in aircraft manufacturing is manual assembly and the bespoke tooling needed. Assembly tasks frequently involve setting relations between parts rather than a global need for accuracy. This makes assembly a suitable process for the use of force control. With force control a robot equipped with needed software and hardware, searches for desired force rather than for a position. To test the usefulness of force control for aircraft assembly an experimental case aligning a compliant rib to multiple surfaces was designed and executed. The system used consisted of a standard ABB robot and an open controller and the assembly sequence was made up of several steps in order to achieve final position. The result shows that the process is robust and repetitive and has the potential to reduce the need for bespoke jigs and fixtures.