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Research Report

Unsettled Technology Domains in Robotics for Automation in Aerospace Manufacturing

Cost reduction and increasing production rates are driving automation of aerospace manufacturing. Articulated serial robots may replace bespoke gantry automation or human operations. Improved accuracy is key to enabling operations such as machining, additive manufacturing (AM), composite fabrication, drilling, automated program development, and inspection. New accuracy standards are needed to enable process-relevant comparisons between robotic systems. Accuracy can be improved through calibration of kinematic and joint stiffness parameters, joint output encoders, adaptive control that compensates for thermal expansion, and feedforward control that compensates for hysteresis and external loads. The impact of datuming could also be significantly reduced through modeling and optimization. Highly dynamic end effectors compensate high-frequency disturbances using inertial sensors and reaction masses.
Research Report

Unsettled Technology Domains in Aerospace Additive Manufacturing Concerning Safety, Airworthiness, and Certification

Additive manufacturing (AM) is currently being used to produce many certified aerospace components. However, significant advantages of AM are not exploited due to unresolved issues associated with process control, feedstock materials, surface finish, inspection, and cost. Components subject to fatigue must undergo surface finish improvements to enable inspection. This adds cost and limits the use of topology optimization. Continued development of process models is also required to enable optimization and understand the potential for defects in thin-walled and slender sections. Costs are high for powder-fed processes due to material costs, machine costs, and low deposition rates. Costs for wire-fed processes are high due to the extensive postprocess machining required. In addition, these processes are limited to low-complexity features.
Research Report

Unsettled Issues in Electrical Demand for Automotive Electrification Pathways

With the current state of automotive electrification, predicting which electrification pathway is likely to be the most economical over a 10- to 30-year outlook is wrought with uncertainty. The development of a range of technologies should continue, including statically charged battery electric vehicles (BEVs), fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and EVs designed for a combination of plug-in and electric road system (ERS) supply. The most significant uncertainties are for the costs related to hydrogen supply, electrical supply, and battery life. This greatly is dependent on electrolyzers, fuel-cell costs, life spans and efficiencies, distribution and storage, and the price of renewable electricity. Green hydrogen will also be required as an industrial feedstock for difficult-to-decarbonize areas such as aviation and steel production, and for seasonal energy buffering in the grid.
Research Report

Unsettled Technology Domains in Industrial Metrology

Within manufacturing, measurements are used to make decisions related to product verification and process control. The selection of production machines and instruments involves a trade-off to achieve the required accuracy while minimizing cost. Similarly, deciding on the level of confidence at which products are rejected is a trade-off between the cost of rejecting acceptable parts and the cost of passing substandard products to the customer. These trade-offs can only be optimized if the uncertainties are fully understood. Currently multiple methodologies are used to understand uncertainties and variation within manufacturing, such as measurement systems analysis (MSA), statistical process control (SPC), and uncertainty evaluation. The industry lacks a unified approach that provides a complete understanding of uncertainty. This means that optimal decisions cannot be made to maximize the profitability of production systems.
Research Report

Unsettled Technology Domains for Rapid and Automated Verification of Industry 4.0 Machine Tools

Currently, inaccuracies in machine tools are often not detected until after they have produced nonconforming parts, causing reworking or scrap—which, for high-value aerospace parts—means significant lost costs. Additionally, low-value parts are often inspected less frequently, allowing many nonconforming parts to be produced before the issue is detected. The alternative to relying on part inspection is to run frequent tests on the manufacturing equipment itself, but established calibration and health-check processes can be lengthy. While costly, emerging rapid and automated verification (RAV) processes enable machine tools to check their performance automatically in just a few minutes throughout the day, allowing machines to operate without human intervention for long periods of time. This SAE EDGE™ Research Report discusses the challenges and advantages of several key RAV solutions, from cost-effective artifact probing, to inertial measurement, and noncontact triple-probing.
Research Report

Unsettled Technology Domains for Pathways to Automotive Decarbonization

This SAE EDGE™ Research Report delves into the challenges of pursuing complete "automotive decarbonization," or carbon-free ground transportation. While many organizations are pursuing green energy solutions through the use of battery-electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, these technologies have their own economic and public risk factors. Unsettled Technology Domains for Pathways to Automotive Decarbonization addresses the technical opinions of multiple experts in this field, covering • Battery, hydrogen, and solar power sources • Societal and health impacts of "active travel" (i.e., walking of cycling) • Electrification of public transport and heavy vehicles • Electric road systems • Environmental considerations As countries around the globe struggle to set and meet emission limits to curb climate change, understanding these key technology areas – and how to deploy them in an optimized manner – is crucial to achieving that goal.
Training / Education

Fundamentals of Metrology and Quality

Metrology is an important component in manufacturing because it provides a rigorous method for Quality personnel to manage risk and uncertainty.  To mitigate risk successfully and develop techniques for problem solving, it is important to evaluate sources of uncertainty, verification, and non-conformance.   This seminar is intended to introduce the various principles associated with uncertainty of measurement; to explore the history of measurement, and to clearly identify calibration, true values, errors, uncertainty, traceability, random and systematic effects, repeatability and reproducibility. 
Technical Paper

Metrology Enhanced Tooling for Aerospace (META): Strategies for Improved Accuracy of Jig Built Structures

The accuracy of many aerospace structures is limited by the accuracy of assembly tooling which is in turn limited by the accuracy of the measurements used to set the tooling. Further loss of accuracy results from different rates of thermal expansion for the components and tooling. This paper describes improved tooling designs and setting processes which have the potential to significantly improve the accuracy of aerospace structures. The most advanced solution described is environmentally isolated interferometer networks embedded within tooling combined with active compensation of component pick-ups. This would eliminate environmental effects on measurements while also allowing compensation for thermal expansion. A more immediately realizable solution is the adjustment of component pick-ups using micrometer jacking screws allowing multilateration to be employed during the final stages of the setting process to generate the required offsets.
Technical Paper

Interface Management in Wing-Box Assembly

Gaps between structural components have been a common problem since the start of aviation. This has usually been caused by the manufacturing tolerances of the components in question not being sufficiently tight. An example where such issues arise is in the assembly of a wing skin to rib feet to form an aircraft wing-box, where it is commonly found that, whilst some rib feet are in contact with the wing skin, others are spaced from it. Yet a strong connection between the wing skin and the rib feet is important to maintain the structural strength of the wing-box. To eliminate the existing gaps, the current approach, used in many manufacturing production lines, involves filling in the gaps to the required shape by applying liquid or solid shim to the rib feet. This is a relatively long and expensive process. To overcome these current inherent difficulties in interface management, a method to eliminate the shimming requirement between component interfaces is presented.

AI closes the loop for composites manufacturing

In a collaborative project between the CFMS and the NCC, both in Bristol, England, a closed loop manufacturing process has been demonstrated for the resin transfer molding (RTM) of high-quality composite components.

A state-of-the-art coordinate measurement instrument

The UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has developed an FSI-based coordinate measurement system which promises to allow high accuracy coordinate measurements of multiple targets simultaneously. Could this be the new standard for airframe builders?