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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

Integrated Hole and Countersink Inspection of Aircraft Components

2013-09-17
2013-01-2147
Precision hole inspection is often required for automated aircraft assembly. Direct contact measurement has been proven reliable and accurate for over 20 years in production applications. At the core of the hole measurement process tool are high precision optical encoders for measurement of diameter and countersink depth. Mechanical contact within the hole is via standard 2-point split ball tips, and diametric data is collected rapidly and continuously enabling the system to profile the inner surface at 0 and 90 degrees. Hole profile, countersink depth, and grip length data are collected in 6 seconds. Parallel to the active process, auto-calibration is performed to minimize environmental factors such as thermal expansion. Tip assemblies are selected and changed automatically. Optional features include concave countersink and panel position measurement.
Journal Article

Applied Accurate Robotic Drilling for Aircraft Fuselage

2010-09-28
2010-01-1836
Once limited by insufficient accuracy, the off-the-shelf industrial robot has been enhanced via the integration of secondary encoders at the output of each of its axes. This in turn with a solid mechanical platform and enhanced kinematic model enable on-part accuracies of less than +/−0.25mm. Continued development of this enabling technology has been demonstrated on representative surfaces of an aircraft fuselage. Positional accuracy and process capability was validated in multiple orientations both in upper surface (spindle down) and lower surface (spindle up) configurations. A second opposing accurate robotic drilling system and full-scale fuselage mockup were integrated to simulate doubled throughput and to demonstrate the feasibility of maintaining high on-part accuracy with a dual spindle cell.
Journal Article

One Piece AFP Spar Manufacture

2011-10-18
2011-01-2592
Manufacturing C cross-sectional components with high aspect ratios out of carbon fiber reinforced composites is desirable by the aircraft industry. Modular AFP heads with short, fixed tow path have the fundamental performance characteristics required to successfully and productively automate the production of these part families. Aircraft parts in this family include wing spars, stringers, and fuselage frames.
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.
Technical Paper

Mobile Automated Robotic Drilling, Inspection, and Fastening

2013-09-17
2013-01-2338
The versatility of the accurate robot has been increased by coupling it with a mobile platform with vertical axis. The automation can be presented to fixed aircraft components such as wings, fuselage sections, flaps, or other aircraft assemblies requiring accurate drilling, inspection, and fastening. The platform accommodates a tool changer, ride along coupon stand, fastener feed system, and other systems critical for quality automated aircraft assembly. The accurate robot's flexibility is increased by a floor resynchronization system. The indexing system is replaced by an automated two-camera onboard vision system and miniature targets embedded in the factory floor, with accuracy comparable to cup and cone alternatives. The accurate robot can be deployed by casters, curvilinear rail, or air bearings.
Journal Article

Increasing Machine Service Life of Large Envelope, High Acceleration AFP Machines

2013-09-17
2013-01-2297
Since Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) is used to manufacture twin-aisled commercial aircraft parts, extremely large envelope machines are often required and appropriate. Additionally, for very large parts, the average AFP course length may be on the order of one to two meters, and the part may have numerous contours. With courses of this length, a high acceleration machine is necessary to achieve fast laydown rates because the machine is frequently starting and stopping. Part contour also requires high acceleration machine axes to accurately maintain the AFP tow path at high feedrates. Large machines with high accelerations result in very large loads on bearings. Large loads and the long, high speed axis travels associated with large envelope machines make achieving a long service life difficult. Designing efficient, lightweight machine structures becomes critical to provide long machine service life.
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 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.
Technical Paper

Offset Anvil for HH500

2012-09-10
2012-01-1871
The handheld (HH) electromagnetic riveter (EMR) has proven to be an effective means of installing up to 7/16\mi diameter rivets in aircraft components. These devices are currently installing rivets on Boeing and Airbus planes all over the world. They are also very popular in China and Japan. However, there have always been difficulties with stringer access. A new version of lightweight driver with interchangeable offset tooling was created to alleviate this problem. In addition, a disposable plastic wedge has been incorporated at the base of the offset ram to prevent stringer damage during the recoil.
Technical Paper

Sharklet Brings New Technology to Electroimpact E4000 LVER Machine

2012-09-10
2012-01-1853
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.
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

New Jig Mounted Wing Panel Riveters, AERAC 2

2009-11-10
2009-01-3089
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

Flexible High Speed Riveting Machine

2003-09-08
2003-01-2948
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.
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.
Technical Paper

Magnetic Safety Base for Automated Riveting and Bolting

2016-09-27
2016-01-2087
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

Coated Rivet Dies: A Dramatic Improvement in Rivet Interference Profile

2016-09-27
2016-01-2084
Successfully riveting aerospace fatigue-rated structure (for instance, wing panels) requires achieving rivet interference between a minimum and a maximum value in a number of locations along the shank of the rivet. In unbalanced structure, where the skin is much thicker than the stringer, this can be particularly challenging, as achieving minimum interference at the exit of the skin (D2) can often be a problem without exceeding the maximum interference at the exit of the stringer (D4). Softer base materials and harder, higher-strength rivets can compound the problem, while standard manufacturing variations in hardness of part and rivet materials can cause repeatability issues in the process. This paper presents a solution that has been successfully implemented on a production commercial aircraft. The application of a special coating on the stringer side die dramatically reduces interference at the exit of the stringer, which in some instances resulted in a reduction of over 38%.
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.
Technical Paper

High Accuracy Assembly of Large Aircraft Components Using Coordinated Arm Robots

2016-09-27
2016-01-2133
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

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.
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