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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

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

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

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.
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

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.
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

Use of Synchronized Parallel Grippers in Fastener Injection Systems

2015-09-15
2015-01-2515
A new style of rivet injector is in production use on a variety of fastening machines used by major aircraft manufacturers. In this injector the opposing sides of the rivet guide blocks are attached to the arms of a parallel gripper. We have implemented the parallel gripper in both vertical axis and horizontal axis riveting applications. It is equally effective in both orientations. We have implemented the parallel gripper rivet injector on headed rivets, threaded bolts, ribbed swage bolts and unheaded (slug) rivets.
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

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

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

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

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

2017-09-19
2017-01-2080
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)

2017-09-19
2017-01-2073
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

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.
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.
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

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.
Journal Article

System for Recirculation of Mobile Tooling

2015-09-15
2015-01-2494
Aircraft assembly systems which require tooling or machinery to pulse or move between multiple positions within a factory can be positioned with high repeatability without high performance foundations or sweeping out large areas of floorspace. An example shows a system of large left and right-hand frames which are positioned at 3 sequential manufacturing steps and then recirculated to the start of production via a central return aisle. The frames are 41 ton actual weight and are 72′ long, similar to a rail car. The system achieves rectangular motion for the recirculation path. The supporting and moving system incorporates low-cost rail in a floor with minimal preparation and simple to use controls. The system is also easily reconfigured if the manufacturing system needs to be altered to meet rate or flow requirements.
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.
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