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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.
Video

Automating AFP Tuning Using a Laser Sensor

2012-03-22
Electroimpact Automatic Fiber Placement (AFP) machines lay-up composite parts by accurately placing carbon fiber tow (strips of impregnated carbon fiber) on a mould. In order to achieve high accuracy at high speeds, the processes of feeding and cutting tows must be tuned. Historically, the tuning has been a time-consuming, manual process. This paper will present a methodology to replace manual measurements with an automated laser, improve measurement speed by an order of magnitude, improve accuracy from +/? 0.020? (manual) to +/? 0.015? (laser), and eliminate human error. Presenter Joshua Cemenska, Electroimpact Inc.
Technical Paper

Automatic Feeding of Temporary Fasteners in Confined Spaces

2010-09-28
2010-01-1879
Single Sided Slave Fasteners (SSSF) or Single Sided Temporary Fasteners (SSTF) are increasingly replacing more cumbersome and manual tools for temporary doweling and clamping of aerospace components during assembly. Their ability to clamp provide doweling and clamping reduce the amount of tooling required. Due to their low profile and blind (one-sided) capability, the key benefit of this new technology is the ability to install these fasteners with automated machines. Electroimpact has developed machines to feed primarily SSTF bolts made application-specific by Centrix LLC [ 1 ]. The application discussed in this paper presented problems of confined spaces where a variety of fasteners were required to be fed automatically. To address this, Electroimpact developed new Bolt Injector and Bolt Inserter technology to feed multiple diameters of SSTF bolts in a very small package. Application-specific SSTF were designed such that multiple diameters could be fed through one feed tube.
Technical Paper

Refurbishment of 767 ASAT Drill-Rivet-Lockbolt Machines

2010-09-28
2010-01-1844
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.
Journal Article

Expanding the Use of Robotics in Airframe Assembly Via Accurate Robot Technology

2010-09-28
2010-01-1846
Serial link articulated robots applied in aerospace assembly have largely been limited in scope by deficiencies in positional accuracy. The majority of aerospace applications require tolerances of +/−0.25mm or less which have historically been far beyond reach of the conventional off-the-shelf robot. The recent development of the accurate robot technology represents a paradigm shift for the use of articulated robotics in airframe assembly. With the addition of secondary feedback, high-order kinematic model, and a fully integrated conventional CNC control, robotic technology can now compete on a performance level with customized high precision motion platforms. As a result, the articulated arm can be applied to a much broader range of assembly applications that were once limited to custom machines, including one-up assembly, two-sided drilling and fastening, material removal, and automated fiber placement.
Journal Article

Automated In-Process Inspection System for AFP Machines

2015-09-15
2015-01-2608
In many existing AFP cells manual inspection of composite plies accounts for a large percentage of production time. Next generation AFP cells can require an even greater inspection burden. The industry is rapidly developing technologies to reduce inspection time and to replace manual inspection with automated solutions. Electroimpact is delivering a solution that integrates multiple technologies to combat inspection challenges. The approach integrates laser projectors, cameras, and laser profilometers in a comprehensive user interface that greatly reduces the burden on inspectors and decreases overall run time. This paper discusses the implementation of each technology and the user interface that ties the data together and presents it to the inspector.
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

Integrated Ball-Screw Based Upset Process for Index Head Rivets Used in Wing Panel Assembly

2015-09-15
2015-01-2491
A new high speed forming process for fatigue rated index head rivets used in wing panel assembly using ball-screw based servo squeeze actuation has been developed. The new process is achieved using a combination of force and position control and is capable of forming to 40,000 lbs at rates of up to 200,000 lbs/second whilst holding the part location to within +/− 10 thousandths of an inch. Multi-axis riveting machines often have positioning axes that are also used for fastener upset. It is often the case that while a CNC is used for positioning control, another secondary controller is used to perform the fastener upset. In the new process, it has been possible to combine the control of the upset process with the machine CNC, thus eliminating any separate controllers. The fastener upset force profile is controlled throughout the forming of the rivet by using a closed loop force control system that has a load cell mounted directly behind the stringer side forming tool.
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.
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

Electromagnetic Bolt Inserter

2011-10-18
2011-01-2775
Interference bolts are widely used in aircraft assembly. Electroimpact has used its Low voltage Electromagnetic Riveter (LVER) technology to automatically swage collars on these bolts. The bolts are installed using two process tools, a percussive bolt inserter and the EMR. The bolt inserter inserts the bolt and the EMR swages the collar. This increased productivity over manual installation, but there was still production time to be saved. The Electromagnetic Bolt Inserter (EMB) was designed to increase production rate even more when installing bolts and swaging a collar onto the bolt. The EMB combines the great benefits of Electroimpact's Low Voltage Electromagnetic riveting technology with a bolt inserter.
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

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

Lights Out Cell Automatic Tool Change Solution for Nut and Collar Anvils with Integrated Fastener Feed Hardware

2017-09-19
2017-01-2097
Automated collar and nut installation requires complex hardware on the wet side of the spar or wing panel. Wet side automatic tool changers are becoming common but an operator is often required to connect electrical, pneumatic and fastener feed system components. This is unacceptable in a lights-out cell, and any fully automatic solution must be reliable while satisfying demanding design requirements. Figure 1 Wet side anvil for nut installation. The 737 Spar Assembly Line (SAL) is a new lights-out machine cell at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington. The SAL machines are equipped with a unique fully automatic tool changer (ATC). The wet side ATC interface is designed to automatically connect conventional as well as more unique services such as fastener feed. The fastener feed ATC module, called the “spinner,” rotates with the machine’s wet side rotary axis (C axis). It consists of a stack of rotors that rotate inside of a stationary annulus.
Technical Paper

High-Accuracy Articulated Mobile Robots

2017-09-19
2017-01-2095
The advent of accuracy improvement methods in robotic arm manipulators have allowed these systems to penetrate applications previously reserved for larger, robustly supported machine architectures. A benefit of the relative reduced size of serial-link robotic systems is the potential for their mobilization throughout a manufacturing environment. However, the mobility of a system offers unique challenges in maintaining the high-accuracy requirement of many applications, particularly in aerospace manufacturing. Discussed herein are several aspects of mechanical design, control, and accuracy calibration required to retain accurate motion over large volumes when utilizing mobile articulated robotic systems. A number of mobile robot system architectures and their measured static accuracy performance are provided in support of the particular methods discussed.
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.
Journal Article

Synthesizing Metrology Technologies to Reduce Engineering Time for Large CNC Machine Compensation

2011-10-18
2011-01-2780
Very large multi-axis CNC machines offer a special challenge for efficient and accurate machine compensation. Aerospace applications demand tight tolerances, but conventional compensation methods become expensive for large machines. Volumetric compensation offers an approach for reducing costs and improving accuracies. A unique control architecture enabled by volumetric compensation enables the use of a single part program by multiple machines. Combining multiple technologies (a proprietary volumetric compensation solver program, Spatial Analyzer, API's Active Target, a laser tracker and bespoke CNC-Tracker communication software for measurement triggering) significantly reduces machine compensation time. Available analysis tools also enable the engineer to evaluate measurement uncertainties and determine the best locations for additional stations as well as quantify the accuracy benefits such stations would offer.
Journal Article

Automatic Bolt Feeding on a Multifunction Flextrack

2011-10-18
2011-01-2773
One of the largest advancements in the use of the Flextrack technology is the addition of automated fastener installation on the Multifunction Flextrack made by Electroimpact. The new Flextrack installs SSTF (Single Sided Temporary Fasteners) into the holes it drills without removing clamp-up force from the workpiece. This is the first Flextrack to drill and install fasteners and its functionality goes beyond even these functions. The fasteners, SSTF bolts, are increasingly replacing more cumbersome and manual tools for temporary fastening of aerospace components during assembly. They provide doweling, clamp-up, and feature a compact head to facilitate machine installation. The new Multifunction Flextrack carries the bolts on the machine head as opposed to being fed through a feed tube. A Bolt Cartridge System carries up to 80 bolts onboard the Flextrack and the Cartridges can be quick changed for use with several different diameters.
Technical Paper

Improved Briles Rivet Forming Using High-Speed Force Feedback and Improved Die Geometry

2019-03-19
2019-01-1377
Electroimpact and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) have produced a new riveting process for the forming of Briles type rivets in Boeing 777 and 777X fuselage assemblies. The Briles rivet is typically used for fuselage assembly and is unique in that it has a self-sealing head. Unlike conventional headed rivets such as the NAS1079, this fastener does not require aircraft sealant under the head to be fluid tight. This unique fastener makes for a difficult fastening process due to the fact that interference must be maintained between the hole and fastener shank, as well as along the sides of the fastener head. Common issues with the formed fasteners include gapping under the fastener head and along the shank of the fastener. Electroimpact has employed a host of different technologies to combat these issues with Briles fastening. First, Electroimpact’s patented “Air Gap” system allows the machine to confirm that the head of the rivet is fully seated in the countersink prior to forming.
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