The Development of Automated Processes For The Manufacture of Cost-Effective Composite Wing-Boxes
The manufacturing cost of composite aerostructures is considerably higher than that of equivalent light-alloy ones. There are several reasons for this, but the transfer of the existing technology from military to civil aviation is identified as a major problem. Neither the designs, nor the methods of manufacture, are considered cost-effective when applied to very large, commercially competitive, structures. This problem was among those addressed within a multi-disciplinary, concurrent engineering project sponsored by BAe Airbus and the UK DTI. During the four year programme, alternative manufacturing technology was developed, and Pilot-plant equipment built. The Pilot-plant was successfully used to demonstrate that wing-box components can be more cheaply, more reliably, and more easily manufactured by simple, innovative, easily automated processes.