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Technical Paper

Automatic Drilling and Fastening System for Large Aircraft Doors

2019-03-19
2019-01-1346
Electroimpact has developed a system for drilling and fastening of cargo door structures which efficiently addresses many of the manufacturing challenges that such parts present. Challenges to door automation include 1) the presence of an inner skin that must be processed, in addition to the outer skin, and 2) a stiff frame structure, which makes the clamping and drilling processes that are typical to automated fastening machines very unforgiving of any errors in workpiece positioning. In this case, the manufacturing cell was to be installed in an existing facility with very limited ceiling height, further complicating the system and process design. New methods were devised to solve these problems, and the solutions found will likely have utility in future applications.
Technical Paper

A Phased Approach to Optimized Robotic Assembly for the 777X

2019-03-19
2019-01-1375
Low rate initial production of the 777X flight control surfaces and wing edges has been underway at the Boeing St. Louis site since early 2017. Drilling, inspection, and temporary fastening tasks are performed by automated multi-function robotic systems supplied by Electroimpact. On the heels of the successful implementation of the initial four (4) systems, Phases II and III are underway to meet increasing production demands with three (3) and four (4) new cells coming online, respectively. Assemblies are dedicated to particular cells for higher-rate production, while all systems are designed for commonality offering strategic backup capability. Safe operation and equipment density are optimized through the use of electronic safeguards. New time-saving process capabilities allow for one-up drilling, hole inspection, fastening, fastener inspection, and stem shaving.
Technical Paper

Automated Riveting of C-130J Aft Fuselage Panels

2017-09-19
2017-01-2075
Electroimpact and Lockheed Martin have developed an automated drilling and fastening system for C-130J aft fuselage panels. Numerous design and manufacturing challenges were addressed to incorporate the system into Lockheed Martin’s existing manufacturing paradigm and to adapt Electroimpact’s existing line of riveting machines for manufacture of these legacy aircraft parts. Challenges to automation included design of a very long yet sufficiently rigid and lightweight offset riveting anvil for fastening around deep circumferential frames, automated feeding of very short, “square” rivets in which the length is similar to the head diameter, creation of part programs and simulation models for legacy parts with no existing 3d manufacturing data, and crash protection for the aircraft part from machine collisions, given the uncertainties inherent in the model and the unique geometry of the aircraft parts.
Technical Paper

Unique Material Handling and Automated Metrology Systems Provides Backbone of Accurate Final Assembly Line for Business Jet

2016-09-27
2016-01-2104
Figure 1 Global 7000 Business Jet. Photo credit: Robert Backus. The customer’s assembly philosophy demanded a fully integrated flexible pulse line for their Final Assembly Line (FAL) to assemble their new business jets. Major challenges included devising a new material handling system, developing capable positioners and achieving accurate joins while accommodating two different aircraft variants (requiring a “flexible” system). An additional requirement was that the system be easily relocated to allow for future growth and reorganization. Crane based material handling presents certain collision and handover risks, and also present a logistics challenge as cranes can become overworked. Automated guided vehicles can be used to move large parts such as wings, but the resulting sweep path becomes a major operational limitation. The customer did not like the trade-offs for either of these approaches.
Journal Article

Automatic Temporary Fastener Installation System for Wingbox Assembly

2016-09-27
2016-01-2085
The automation cycle time of wing assembly can be shortened by the automated installation of single-sided temporary fasteners to provide temporary part clamping and doweling during panel drilling. Feeding these fasteners poses problems due to their complexity in design and overall heavy weight. In the past, Electroimpact has remotely fed these fasteners by blowing them through pneumatic tubing. This technique has resulted in occasional damage to fasteners during delivery and a complex feed system that requires frequent maintenance. Due to these issues, Electroimpact has developed a new fully automated single-sided temporary fastening system for installation of the LISI Clampberry fasteners in wing panels for the C919 wing factory in Yanliang, China. The feed system stores fasteners in gravity-fed cartridges on the end effector near the point of installation.
Journal Article

Integrated Ball-Screw Based Upset Process for Index Head Rivets Used in Wing Panel Assembly

2015-09-15
2015-01-2491
A new high speed forming process for fatigue rated index head rivets used in wing panel assembly using ball-screw based servo squeeze actuation has been developed. The new process is achieved using a combination of force and position control and is capable of forming to 40,000 lbs at rates of up to 200,000 lbs/second whilst holding the part location to within +/− 10 thousandths of an inch. Multi-axis riveting machines often have positioning axes that are also used for fastener upset. It is often the case that while a CNC is used for positioning control, another secondary controller is used to perform the fastener upset. In the new process, it has been possible to combine the control of the upset process with the machine CNC, thus eliminating any separate controllers. The fastener upset force profile is controlled throughout the forming of the rivet by using a closed loop force control system that has a load cell mounted directly behind the stringer side forming tool.
Journal Article

Panel Assembly Line (PAL) for High Production Rates

2015-09-15
2015-01-2492
Developing the most advanced wing panel assembly line for very high production rates required an innovative and integrated solution, relying on the latest technologies in the industry. Looking back at over five decades of commercial aircraft assembly, a clear and singular vision of a fully integrated solution was defined for the new panel production line. The execution was to be focused on co-developing the automation, tooling, material handling and facilities while limiting the number of parties involved. Using the latest technologies in all these areas also required a development plan, which included pre-qualification at all stages of the system development. Planning this large scale project included goals not only for the final solution but for the development and implementation stages as well. The results: Design/build philosophy reduced project time and the number of teams involved. This allowed for easier communication and extended development time well into the project.
Technical Paper

Robotic Drilling and Countersinking on Highly Curved Surfaces

2015-09-15
2015-01-2517
Electroimpact has developed a novel method for accurately drilling and countersinking holes on highly convex parts using an articulated arm robotic drilling system. Highly curved parts, such as the leading edge of an aircraft wing, present numerous challenges when attempting to drill normal to the part surface and produce tight tolerance countersinks. Electroipmact's Accurate Robot technology allows extremely accurate positioning of the tool point and the spindle vector orientation. However, due to the high local curvature of the part, even a small positional deviation of the tool point can result in a significantly different normal vector than expected from an NC program. An off-normal hole will result in an out of tolerance countersink and a non-flush fastener.
Technical Paper

Robotic Installation of OSI-Bolts

2015-09-15
2015-01-2512
Electroimpact has developed an automated solution for installing OSI-Bolts on the HStab for Boeing's 787-9 aircraft. This solution utilizes Electroimpact's existing accurate robotic system together with new hardware designed specifically for OSI-Bolts. In addition to automated drilling and fastener installation, this system performs numerous quality checks to insure the installed fastener meets engineering requirements. Before installing the fastener, the system measures actual stack thickness and the length of the fastener to ensure that the proper grip is installed. Torque and angle feedback are recorded during installation which can be used determine if the fastener was installed correctly. The system will also automatically shave the small protuberance on the fastener head left by the broken off fastener stem, which is inherent to the OSI-Bolt. Figure 1 Cell Overview
Technical Paper

Fully Automated Robotic Tool Change

2015-09-15
2015-01-2508
An improved aircraft assembly line incorporates fully automated robotic tool change. Ten machine tools, each with two onboard 6-axis robots, drill and fasten airplane structural components. The robots change 100% of the process tooling (drill bits, bolt anvils, hole probes, and nosepieces) to allow seamless transition across the entire range of hole and fastener sizes (3/16″-7/16″). To support required rate, total tool change time (including automatic calibration) is less than 80 seconds. This paper describes the robots and their end effector hardware, reliability testing, and simulations for both mechanical clearance and cycle time estimation.
Journal Article

Utilization of a Vision System to Automate Mobile Machine Tools

2014-09-16
2014-01-2271
In an attempt to be more flexible and cost effective, Aerospace Manufacturers have increasingly chosen to adapt a manufacturing style which borrows heavily from the Automotive industry. To facilitate this change in methodologies a system for locating robots has been developed which utilizes cameras for both locating and guidance of a mobile platform for a robot with drilling and fastening end effector.
Journal Article

Automated Floor Drilling Equipment for the 767

2014-09-16
2014-01-2270
A new portable floor drilling machine, the 767AFDE, has been designed with a focus on increased reach and speed, ease-of-use, and minimal weight. A 13-foot wide drilling span allows consolidation of 767 section 45 floor drilling into a single swath. A custom CNC interface simplifies machine operations and troubleshooting. Four servo-driven, air-cooled spindles allow high rate drilling through titanium and aluminum. An aluminum space frame optimized for high stiffness/weight ratio allows high speed operation while minimizing aircraft floor deflection. Bridge track tooling interfaces between the machine and the aircraft grid. A vacuum system, offline calibration plate, and transportation dolly complete the cell.
Technical Paper

Next Generation Mobile Robotic Drilling and Fastening Systems

2014-09-16
2014-01-2259
Electroimpact has developed a second generation of mobile robots with several improvements over the first generation. The frame has been revised from a welded steel tube to a welded steel plate structure, making the dynamic response of the structure stiffer and reducing load deflections while maintaining the same weight. The deflections of the frame have been optimized to simplify position compensation. The caster mechanism is very compact, offers greater mounting flexibility, and improved maneuverability. The mechanism uses a pneumatic airbag for both lifting and suspension. The robot sled has been improved to offer greater rigidity for the same weight, and dual secondary feedback scales on the vertical axis further improve the rigidity of the overall system. Maintenance access has been improved by rerouting the cable and hose trays, and lowering the electrical cabinet.
Technical Paper

5-Axis Flex Track Drilling Systems on Complex Contours: Solutions for Position Control

2013-09-17
2013-01-2224
Previous Flex Track drilling systems move along two parallel tracks that conform to the contour of a work piece surface. Until recently, applications have been limited to relatively simple surfaces such as the cylindrical mid-body fuselage join of a commercial aircraft. Recent developments in the state of the art have introduced the 5-axis variant which is capable of precision drilling on complex contours. This paper presents solutions to two positioning challenges associated with this added functionality: the ability to align the spindle axis normal to an angled drilling surface while maintaining accuracy in tool-point position, the ability to maintain synced motion between dual drives on complex track profiles.
Journal Article

E7000 High-Speed CNC Fuselage Riveting Cell

2013-09-17
2013-01-2150
Electroimpact has recently produced a high-speed fuselage panel fastening machine which utilizes an all-electric, CNC-controlled squeeze process for rivet upset and bolt insertion. The machine is designed to fasten skin panels to stringers, shear ties, and other internal fuselage components. A high riveting rate of 15 rivets per minute was achieved on the first-generation E7000 machine. This rate includes drilling, insertion, and upset of headed fuselage rivets. The rivets are inserted by a roller screw-driven upper actuator, with rivet upset performed by a lower actuator driven by a high-load-capacity ball screw. The rivet upset process can be controlled using either position- or load-based feedback. The E7000 machine incorporates a number of systems to increase panel processing speed, improve final product quality, and minimize operator intervention.
Journal Article

Body Join Drilling for One-Up-Assembly

2013-09-17
2013-01-2296
Over 1,200 large diameter holes must be drilled into the side-of-body join on a Boeing commercial aircraft's fuselage. The material stack-ups are multiple layers of primarily titanium and CFRP. Due to assembly constraints, the holes must be drilled for one-up-assembly (no disassembly for deburr). In order to improve productivity, reduce manual drilling processes and improve first-time hole quality, Boeing set out to automate the drilling process in their Side-of-Body join cell. Implementing an automated solution into existing assembly lines was complicated by the location of the target area, which is over 15 feet (4 meters) above the factory floor. The Side-of-Body Drilling machines (Figure 1) are capable of locating, drilling, measuring and fastening holes with less than 14 seconds devoted to non-drilling operations. Drilling capabilities provided for holes up to ¾″ in diameter through stacks over 4.5″ thick in a titanium/CFRP environment.
Technical Paper

5-Axis Flex Track System

2012-09-10
2012-01-1859
Flex Track Systems are seeing increased usage in aerospace applications for joining large assemblies, such as fuselage sections. Previous systems were limited to work pieces that allowed the tracks to follow a gentle radius of curvature, limiting the locations where the system could be used. This paper describes a new 5-Axis Flex Track System developed to expand the usage of the systems, allowing them to process work pieces containing complex and irregular contours. Processing complex contours is accomplished through the addition of A and B axes providing normalization in multiple directions. These new systems are configured with the latest multi-function process capabilities allowing drilling, hole quality measurement, and temporary or permanent fastener installation.
Technical Paper

Portable 2 Axis Milling Machine for CFRP

2012-09-10
2012-01-1879
As part of a Composite Wing Manufacture Program, Electroimpact was asked to design and develop a small portable milling machine for machining CFRP. The machine needed to be light so it could be lifted by two operators, robust to the production environment, and stiff enough to allow it to cut a 15 mm deep 3/8\mi slot through composite material (CFRP), in one pass, with no delamination. The machine also needed to be capable of performing a 30 mm deep finishing cut, in one pass, with 3 μm or better surface finish. Specialist Polycrystalline Diamond (PDC) roughing cutters were developed for the cutting process to reduce cutting loads and vibration while maximizing cutter life. The machine also needed to be capable of cutting along a 2 axis path. Electroimpact successfully introduced the machine in to the production environment in October 2011, within a 12 month development window.
Video

Vertical Picture-Frame Wing Jig Structure Design with an Eye to Foundation Loading

2012-03-14
The foundation of many production aircraft assembly facilities is a more dynamic and unpredictable quantity than we would sometimes care to admit. Any tooling structures constructed on these floors, no matter how thoroughly analyzed or well understood, are at the mercy of settling and shifting concrete, which can cause very lengthy and costly periodic re-certification and adjustment procedures. It is with this in mind, then, that we explore the design possibilities for one such structure to be built in Belfast, North Ireland for the assembly of the Shorts C-Series aircraft wings. We evaluate the peak floor pressure, weight, gravity deflection, drilling deflection, and thermal deflection of four promising structures and discover that carefully designed pivot points and tension members can offer significant benefits in some areas.
Technical Paper

Process Speeds for Drilling and Reaming CFRP and CFRP/Metallic Stacks

2011-10-18
2011-01-2743
Drilling of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) components in aircraft production presents many challenges. Factors including layup material, layup process, layup orientation, hole tolerance, surface finish, delamination limits, and inspection methods result in a wide range of process times. The purpose of the paper is to provide a framework to understanding the drilling process in CFRP and the resulting hole tolerance, surface finish and delamination. The paper will investigate drilled hole diameters from 3/16\mi (5 mm) up to 1\mi (25.4 mm) drilled thru CFRP/CFRP and CFRP/metallic stacks with automated drilling machines using single-sided clamping.
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