Automated Back Spot Facing: Robofacer 2015-01-2488
In the aircraft design process there are the occasional bolted joints with opposing surfaces that are not parallel to each other. This can necessitate manufacturing to machine a spot face into the structural surfaces for the bolt head and nut to seat on. Typically this process is done manually by two workers with all process verification being done visually. Additionally, the nature of airplane structure often requires one worker to be inside a confined space to monitor the process. With this in mind, a tool was requested to reduce the number of workers required, remove workers from confined spaces and ensure a robust method for process validation. The critical technology that would have to be developed was a device that could fix itself into an existing hole, measure the surface of which the hole exited and then machine a spot face into that surface to a specific calculated depth. The device would only require a single operator to install and start the machine in a given hole. The unique process of using the machining tool itself to measure and characterize the surface through tactile feedback enabled this process to work. This paper will examine the conventional process in addition to the equipment and processes required to automate the spot facing process.