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Technical Paper

Force Feedback for Assembly of Aircraft Structures

2010-09-28
2010-01-1872
Variability in composite manufacture and the limitations in positional accuracy of common industrial robots have hampered automation of assembly tasks within aircraft manufacturing. One way to handle geometry variations and robot compliancy is to use force control. Force control technology utilizes a sensor mounted on the robot to feedback force data to the controller system so instead of being position driven, i.e. programmed to achieve a certain position with the tool, the robot can be programmed to achieve a certain force. This paper presents an experimental case where a compliant rib is aligned to multiple surfaces using force feedback and an industrial robot system from ABB. Two types of ribs where used, one full size carbon fiber rib, and one smaller metal replica for evaluation purposes. The alignment sequence consisted of several iterative steps and a search procedure was implemented within the robot control system.
Technical Paper

Modular and Configurable Steel Structure for Assembly Fixtures

2010-09-28
2010-01-1873
This paper will present the latest development of a configurable and modular steel construction system for use in frameworks of flexible fixtures of the kind called Affordable Reconfigurable Fixtures (ART). Instead of a dedicated aircraft fixture, which is very time consuming and expensive, the ART fixtures enable affordable construction from a standard component kit, by solving the main drawbacks of traditional tooling. In early 2009 Airbus UK built the first steel modular fixture for the aerospace industry. The project was a partnership with DELFOi and Linköping University in a project called ReFlex, Reconfigurable Flexible Tooling. A paper was presented in the last year SAE conference which explained about the project in overall. The construction system called BoxJoint has recently been tested in some manufacturing areas at Airbus UK and also been applied in the production at Saab Aerospace Linköping Sweden.
Technical Paper

Use of an Innovative Modular Gripper System for Flexible Aircraft Assembly Operations

2016-09-27
2016-01-2108
The rising demand for civil aircraft leads to the development of flexible and adaptive production systems in aviation industry. Due to economic efficiency, operational accuracy and high performance these manufacturing and assembly systems must be technologically robust and standardized. The current aircraft assembly and its jigs are characterized by a high complexity with poor changeability and low adaptability. In this context, the use of industrial robots and standardized jigs promise highly flexible and accurate complex assembly operations. This paper deals with the flexible and adaptable aircraft assembly based on industrial robots with special end-effectors for shaping operations. By the development and use of lightweight gripper system made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics the required scaling, robustness and stiffness of the whole assembly system can be realized.
Technical Paper

Snake-Arm Robots: A New Approach to Aircraft Assembly

2006-09-12
2006-01-3141
This paper describes work being conducted by OC Robotics and Airbus to develop snake-arm robot technology suitable for conducting automated inspection and assembly tasks within wing boxes. The composite, single skin construction of aircraft structures presents new challenges for robotic assembly. During box close-out it is necessary for aircraft fitters to climb into the wing box through a small access panel and use manual or power tools to perform a variety of tasks. These manual interventions give rise to a number of health and safety concerns. Snake-arm robots provide a means to replace manual procedures by delivering the required tools to all areas of the wing box. The advantages of automating in-wing processes will be discussed. This paper presents early stage results of the demonstration snake-arm robot and outlines expectations for future development.
Technical Paper

Simply Supported Retractable Top Beam for Wing Major Assembly Jig

2006-09-12
2006-01-3127
A large free-standing structure is constructed to positively position the spar and related components in the major assembly jig of the wing for a military transport aircraft. The beam of this structure is mounted on mechanisms enabling the lateral retraction of the beam and tooling to provide full part loading access and extraction of a completed wing. The free-standing nature of this design also allows full integration of an automated drilling machine into the jig.
Technical Paper

Composite Automatic Wing Drilling Equipment (CAWDE)

2006-09-12
2006-01-3162
A custom 5-axis machine tool is constructed to enable fully automated drilling and slave-bolt insertion of composite and metallic wingbox components for a new military transport aircraft. The machine tool can be transported to serve many assembly jigs within the cell. Several features enhance accuracy, capability, and operator safety.
Technical Paper

Lug Cutting and Trimming of the Carbon Fibre Wing Panels of the Airbus A400m with Portable Hand Positioned Tools

2007-09-17
2007-01-3795
The Airbus A400m has carbon fibre wing panels on both the upper and lower surfaces. When manufactured, these panels come supplied with various lugs on the periphery of the panel. Some are used for lifting the panel, some are used for indexing the panel; however, all lugs must be removed at some time during wing build. Lug thickness varies from 4mm to 14mm; in addition, many lugs must be cut to a 2D profile rather than just straight. The main challenge of the project was to deliver a tool that was small, portable and compact, but that could also accurately slot thick carbon fibre panels, without de-lamination, leaving a good surface finish. The solution was an air powered routing hand tool that was mechanically guided along a 2D path using a cam profile. Special diamond grit cutters were used to cut the initial slot and reduce the machining forces to a bare minimum, with the finishing cut done using a PCD router bit to obtain a good surface finish.
Technical Paper

Snake-Arm Robots: A New Approach to Aircraft Assembly

2007-09-17
2007-01-3870
This paper describes work being conducted by OC Robotics and Airbus to develop snake-arm robots to conduct assembly tasks within wing boxes - an area currently inaccessible for automation. The composite, single skin construction of aircraft structures presents new assembly challenges. Currently during box close-out it is necessary for aircraft fitters to climb into the wing box through small access panels and use manual or power tools to perform a variety of tasks. In future wing designs it may be that certain parts of the wing do not provide adequate access for manual assembly methods. It is also known that these manual interventions introduce health and safety concerns with their associated costs. Snake-arm robots provide a means to replace manual procedures by delivering the required tools to all areas of the wing box. Such a development has broader implications for aircraft design and assembly.
Technical Paper

Automated Wing Drilling System for the A380-GRAWDE

2003-09-08
2003-01-2940
On Airbus aircraft, the undercarriage reinforcing is attached through the lower wing skin using bolts up to 1-inch in diameter through as much as a 4-inch stack up. This operation typically takes place in the wing box assembly jigs. Manual hole drilling for these bolts has traditionally required massive drill templates and large positive feed drill motors. In spite of these large tools, the holes must be drilled in multiple steps to reduce the thrust loads, which adds process time. For the new A380, Airbus UK wanted to explore a more efficient method of drilling these large diameter holes. Introducing automated drilling equipment, which is capable of drilling these holes and still allows for the required manual access within the wing box assembly jig, was a significant challenge. To remain cost effective, the equipment must be flexible and mobile, a llowing it to be used on multiple assemblies.
Technical Paper

Drilling Cost Model

2002-09-30
2002-01-2632
The paper describes a way of generating a cost model, which is aimed to compare different drilling processes. The development of this tool is a part of an ongoing European Union funded aircraft industry project called ADFAST (Automation for Drilling, Fastening, Assembly, Systems Integration, and Tooling). This part of the project involves 4 industrial partners, (Alenia, Airbus Espana SL, Airbus UK and Saab AB), 1 equipment developer (Novator AB) and 1 academic institute (Linkoping University). The model has been created to enable the benefits of an advanced system such as orbital drilling to be quantified. The model is able to generate a cycle time and a cost for the whole drilling process involving equipment, consumables and assembly of varied aircraft structures. The challenge of the task was to develop the ability of modeling a process with a sequence of drilling operations that the model user, in an intuitive way, can select and modify.
Technical Paper

An Algorithm for Assembly Centric Design

2002-09-30
2002-01-2634
This paper describes and demonstrates the use of an assembly centric design algorithm as an aid to achieving minimal hard tooling assembly concepts. The algorithm consists of a number of logically ordered design methodologies and also aids the identification of other enabling technologies. Included in the methodologies is an innovative systems analysis tool that enables the comparison of alternative assembly concepts, and the prediction and control of the total assembly error, at the outline stage of the design.
Journal Article

Aircraft Wing Build Philosophy Change through System Pre-Equipping of Major Components

2016-09-27
2016-01-2120
In the civil aircraft industry there is a continuous drive to increase the aircraft production rate, particularly for single aisle aircraft where there is a large backlog of orders. One of the bottlenecks is the wing assembly process which is largely manual due to the complexity of the task and the limited accessibility. The presented work describes a general wing build approach for both structure and systems equipping operations. A modified build philosophy is then proposed, concerned with large component pre-equipping, such as skins, spars or ribs. The approach benefits from an offloading of the systems equipping phase and allowing for higher flexibility to organize the pre-equipping stations as separate entities from the overall production line. Its application is presented in the context of an industrial project focused on selecting feasible system candidates for a fixed wing design, based on assembly consideration risks for tooling, interference and access.
Journal Article

Evaluation of Control Methods for Thermal Roll Forming of Aerospace Composite Materials.

2016-09-27
2016-01-2118
With increased demand for composite materials in the aerospace sector there is a requirement for the development of manufacturing processes that enable larger and more complex geometries, whilst ensuring that the functionality and specific properties of the component are maintained. To achieve this, methods such as thermal roll forming are being considered. This method is relatively new to composite forming in the aerospace field, and as such there are currently issues with the formation of part defects during manufacture. Previous work has shown that precise control of the force applied to the composite surface during forming has the potential to prevent the formation of wrinkle defects. In this paper the development of various control strategies that can robustly adapt to different complex geometries are presented and compared within simulated and small scale experimental environments, on varying surface profiles.
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