The improvements in Parallel Kinematic Machines (PKM) coupled with new innovative technologies, allow for Advanced Automated Milling, Drilling and Fastening in the Aerospace industry. Providing economical alternatives to processes that currently utilize highly customized machine tools, sacrificing flexibility and dynamics, or complex robotic cells sacrificing system capabilities with the rigidity and accuracy limitations of serial robots.
The latest in PKM technology eliminates the ball joints that were mandatory in all previous PKM machines, as well as the heavy platforms or structures supporting the actuators. This allows for the strength and rigidity common to machine tools, but with the flexibility and high dynamics associated with standard serial robots.
The new use of Auto-Calibration and cross lasers allow for highly accurate positioning, adaptation to a material surface, edge, datum, hole, etc. or to reference the machine to the adjacent work zone.
Specific advanced automated applications will demonstrate the applications of drilling, milling, orbital drilling and fastening. Implementation of Multifunction End Effectors, using the rigidity, flexibility and accuracy of the PKM to position the Multifunction End Effector while providing the forces required, as well as high speed spindles. These advanced automated applications will include; drilling & fastening for wing assemblies, milling and trimming of wing panels, milling/drilling for wing root ends and stringers.
These systems provide for flexible solutions that, in the past, have been difficult (if not impossible) for serial robotic systems, and very expensive and slow for dedicated custom machine tools to achieve. As the aerospace industry demands greater flexibility, and cost reduction, the implementation of parallel kinematics will be key in bridging the gap between serial robots.