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

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

Refurbishment of 767 ASAT Drill-Rivet-Lockbolt Machines

Boeing has relied upon the 767 ASAT (ASAT1) since 1983 to fasten the chords, stiffeners and rib posts to the web of the four 767 wing spars. The machine was originally commissioned with a Terra five axis CNC control. The Terra company went out of business and the controls were replaced with a custom DOS application in 1990. These are now hard to support so Boeing solicited proposals. Electroimpact proposed to retrofit with a Fanuc 31I CNC, and in addition, to replace all associated sensors, cables and feedback systems. This work is now complete on two of the four machines. Both left front and right front are in production with the new CNC control.
Technical Paper

New Jig Mounted Wing Panel Riveters, AERAC 2

Electroimpact revisited a piece of automation history this year. In 1989, Electroimpact delivered its first ever Automated Electromagnetic Riveting and Assembly Cell or A.E.R.A.C. to Textron Aero Structures, now Vought Aircraft Industries. These machines produce upper wing panels for Airbus A330/340 aircraft. They were the precursor to the Low Voltage Electromagnetic Riveters or LVER's producing wing panels for Airbus single isle, A340 and A380 programs in Broughton, Wales, UK. In 2009, Electroimpact delivered two next generation AERAC machines to Vought Aircraft Industries. A significant design challenge was to hold the moving mass for the entire machine under 5220 kg without sacrificing performance of the LVER. These machines employ several new technologies to achieve this including Electroimpact's latest generation rivet injector, an integrated headstone load cell, and GE Fanuc's customer board.
Technical Paper

Slug Rivet Machine Installs 16 Rivets Per Minute Drill-Rivet-Shave

Electroimpact has designed the E6000, the next generation riveting machine, with a focus on reduced weight and speed. It will initially be used on ARJ21 wing panels in Xi'an, China, but it is able to fasten a variety of panels including A320 and 737. The E6000's fastening cycle is capable of forming and shaving 16 rivets per minute. Head alignment is maintained by two independent four axis heads using a combination of controls and kinematics. Process tool speed has been improved via high lead screws, high speed Fanuc motors, and a shorter head stone drop. An innovative EI operator interface enhances end user experience.
Technical Paper

Development of a Multi Spindle Flexible Drilling System for Circumferential Splice Drilling Applications on the 777 Airplane

Flex Track Drilling systems are being used increasingly in aerospace applications providing low cost, highly efficient automated drilling systems. Certain applications like circumferential splice drilling on large size airplane fuselages require multi spindle flex track systems working in tandem to meet production efficiency requirements. This paper discusses the development of a multi spindle flex track drilling system for a circumferential splice drilling on the 777 airplane. The multi spindle system developed uses a variety of flex track carriages attached to the flexible vacuum tracks to allow for offset or wide inside drilling. Segmented machine programmes allow these multiple machines to be deployed on the same circumferential splice on the airplane providing the multi spindle system. Interfacing of the multiple spindles is achieved by a custom OEM interface using a single screen thereby ensuring simplicity of operation.
Technical Paper

Sharklet Brings New Technology to Electroimpact E4000 LVER Machine

Electroimpact's E4000 LVER riveting machine entered service in 1998 assembling A320/A321 upper wing panels at the Airbus wing manufacturing facility in Broughton, Wales. Airbus's recent introduction of the Sharklet modification to the wings of the A320 family of aircraft necessitated a number of changes to the machine and fixture to accommodate the revised wing geometry. Electroimpact and Airbus also worked together to identify a wide range of machine improvements and updates. A short list of the changes made to the machine includes a new CNC, new motors, scales, spindles, and new technologies such as laser tracers and normality sensors. The end result is a faster, more accurate machine with state-of-the-art controls ready to support Airbus's A320/321 wing panel assembly for the next 15 years.
Technical Paper

Electromagnetic Bolt Inserter

The Electromagnetic Bolt Inserter (EMB) is a new tool that combines functions that on previous machines were performed by two tools, a bolt inserter followed by an EMR. By combining the operations of two tools in one the processing time for the wing spar is reduced. The tool incorporates quality checks for bolt length, stake height and bolt insert height.
Technical Paper

5-Axis Flex Track System

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

Riveting Thin A320 Stacks

The E7000 riveting machine installs NAS1097KE5-5.5 rivets into A320 Section 18 fuselage side panels. For the thinnest stacks where the panel skin is under 2mm (2024) and the stringer is under 2mm (7075), the normal process of riveting will cause deformation of the panel or dimpling. The authors found a solution to this problem by forming the rivet with the upper pressure foot extended, and it has been tested and approved for production.
Technical Paper

Robotic Drilling and Countersinking on Highly Curved Surfaces

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

Frame-Clip Riveting End Effector

A frame-clip riveting end effector has been developed for installing 3.97mm (5/32) and 4.6mm (3/16) universal head aluminum rivets. The end effector can be mounted on the end of a robot arm. The end effector provides 35.6 kNt (8000 lbs) of rivet upset. Rivets can be installed fifteen millimeters from the IML. The clearance allowed to rivet centerline is 150 millimeters. The riveting process features a unique style of rivet fingers for the universal head rivet. These fingers allow the rivet to be brought in with the ram. This differentiates from some styles of frame-clip end effectors in which the rivet is blown into the hole. The paper shows the technical components of the end effector in sequence: the pneumatic clamp, rivet insert and upset. The end effector will be used for riveting shear ties to frames on the IML of fuselage panels.
Technical Paper

High Accuracy Assembly of Large Aircraft Components Using Coordinated Arm Robots

Aircraft manufacturers are seeking automated systems capable of positioning large structural components with a positional accuracy of ±0.25mm. Previous attempts at using coordinated arm robots for such applications have suffered from the use of low accuracy robots and minimal systems integration. Electroimpact has designed a system that leverages our patented Accurate Robot technology to create an extensively automated and comprehensively integrated process driven by the native airplane component geometry. The predominantly auto-generated programs are executed on a single Siemens CNC that controls two Electroimpact-enhanced Kuka 6 axis robots. This paper documents the system design including the specification, applicable technologies, descriptions of system components, and the comprehensive system integration. The first use of this system will be the accurate assembly of production empennage panels for the Boeing 777X, 787 and 777 airplanes.
Technical Paper

Magnetic Safety Base for Automated Riveting and Bolting

There is an ever-present risk for the lower ram on a riveting machine to suffer a damaging collision with aircraft parts during automated fastening processes. The risk intensifies when part frame geometry is complex and fastener locations are close to part features. The lower anvil must be led through an obstructive environment, and there is need for crash protection during side-to-side and lowering motion. An additional requirement is stripping bolt collars using the downward motion of the lower ram, which can require as much as 2500 pounds of pulling force. The retention force on the lower anvil would therefore need to be in excess of 2500 pounds. To accomplish this a CNC controlled electromagnetic interface was developed, capable of pulling with 0-3400 pounds. This electromagnetic safety base releases when impact occurs from the sides or during downward motion (5 sided crash protection), and it retains all riveting and bolting functionality.
Technical Paper

Automated Riveting of C-130J Aft Fuselage Panels

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

Automatic Tool Change System for Stringer Side Rivet and Bolt Anvils on a D-Frame or C-Frame Fuselage Fastening Machine

Manually changing stringer-side tooling on an automatic fastening machine is time consuming and can be susceptible to human error. Stringer-side tools can also be physically difficult to manage because of their weight, negatively impacting the experience and safety of the machine operator. A solution to these problems has recently been developed by Electroimpact for use with its new Fuselage Skin Splice Fastening Machine. The Automatic Tool Changer makes use of a mechanically passive gripper system capable of securely holding and maneuvering twelve tools weighing 40 pounds each inside of a space-saving enclosure. The Automatic Tool Changer is mounted directly to the stringer side fastening head, meaning the machine is capable of changing tools relatively quickly while maintaining its position on the aircraft panel with no machine operator involvement.
Technical Paper

High Volume Automated Spar Assembly Line (SAL)

The decision to replace a successful automated production system at the heart of a high volume aircraft factory does not come easily. A point is reached when upgrades and retrofits are insufficient to meet increasing capacity demands and additional floor space is simply unavailable. The goals of this project were to increase production volume, reduce floor space usage, improve the build process, and smooth factory flow without disrupting today’s manufacturing. Two decades of lessons learned were leveraged along with advancements in the aircraft assembly industry, modern machine control technologies, and maturing safety standards to justify the risk and expense of a ground-up redesign. This paper will describe how an automated wing spar fastening system that has performed well for 20 years is analyzed and ultimately replaced without disturbing the high manufacturing rate of a single aisle commercial aircraft program.
Technical Paper

Join Cell for the G150 Aircraft

A simple, open, post and index system is used for final alignment and joining of the fuselage and wings of a new passenger business jet. 19 manually actuated axes precisely move the wings, forward, and rear fuselage sections into position. Movement is accomplished with industrial jacking screws and positions recorded with precision linear potentiometers. Wing sweep, angle of attack, and dihedral are monitored and controlled. The axes positions are downloaded to data files for verification and data archiving. The Gulfstream G150 Join Cell's open architecture enhances access to fasten the main aircraft structure while maintaining flight critical geometry.
Technical Paper

Flexible High Speed Riveting Machine

Airbus UK was interested in a high-speed riveting machine cell that could automatically rivet over 30 different wing panels for a wide range of aircraft to fit in a limited floor space. Electroimpact was approached and proposed a Flexible, High Speed, Riveting Machine (HSRM). The resulting flexible riveting cell is 170 feet long and contains two flexible fixtures located end to end. Two fixtures allow manual work on one fixture while the machine is riveting on the second fixture. Each fixture can be quickly reconfigured to accommodate a broad range of Airbus panels. The system went into production on January 12, 2003 and has been extremely effective, riveting the first wing panel, a lower panel 1 for the A330-300 in only 5 days. This was one of the largest panels the cell was sized to accommodate. Anticipated process improvements will reduce the riveting time to just three days per panel.
Technical Paper

ONCE (ONe-sided Cell End effector) Robotic Drilling System

The ONCE robotic drilling system utilizes a mass produced, high capacity industrial robot as the motion platform for an automated drilling, countersinking, and hole inspection machine for the skin to substructure join on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet wing trailing edge flaps (TEF). Historically, robots have lacked the accuracy, payload capacity, and stiffness required for aerospace drilling applications. Recent improvements in positional accuracy and payload capacity, along with position and stiffness compensation, have enabled the robot to become an effective motion platform. Coupled with a servo-controlled multifunction end effector (MFEE), hole locations have successfully been placed within the specification's +/-0.060″ tolerance. The hole diameters and countersinks have proven to be very accurate, with countersink depth variation at 0.0025″ worst case.
Journal Article

Rivet and Bolt Injector with Bomb Bay Ejection Doors

Electroimpact's newest riveting machine features a track-style injector with Bomb Bay Ejection Doors. The Bomb Bay Ejection Doors are a robust way to eject fasteners from track style injector. Track style injectors are commonly used by Electroimpact and others in the industry. Using the Bomb Bay Doors for fastener ejection consists of opening the tracks allowing very solid clearing of an injector when ejecting a fastener translating to a more reliable fastener delivery system. Examples of when fastener ejection is needed are when a fastener is sent backwards, when there are two in the tube, or when a machine operator stops or resets the machine during a fastening cycle. This method allows fasteners to be cleared in nearly every situation when ejecting a fastener is required. Additional feature of Electroimpact's new injection system is integrated anvil tool change.