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Technical Paper

Robotic Drilling System for 737 Aileron

Boeing's wholly owned subsidiary in Australia, Hawker de Havilland produces all ailerons for the Boeing 737 family of aircraft. Increasing production rates required to meet market demand drove the requirements for a new updated approach to assembly of these parts. Using lean principals, a pulsed flow line approach was developed. A component of this new line is the integration of a flexible robotic drilling/trimming system. The new robotic system is required to meet aggressive tack time targets with high levels of reliability. The selected system was built on a Kuka KR360-2 conventional articulated arm robot. A significant challenge of this project was the requirement for the process head to work efficiently on an aileron in an existing jig. As a result a new side-mounted drill and trim end effector was developed. Automated tool changers for both cutters and pressure foot assemblies eliminated the requirement for in- process manual intervention.
Technical Paper

Flex Track for use in Production

Lightweight and flexible automated drilling machines are becoming more common in aerospace industry to address the increase in demand for low cost assembly solutions. Successful production implementation of the Flex Track system has been accomplished by matching applications with appropriate design features. Following the concept of small lightweight machines, which rely on local accuracy and sacrifice stiffness and shear mass, the Flex Track tackles problems on a detail level. This paper describes how the evolutionary progress of the Flex Track drilling system has and continues to address the increase in demand for low cost automated drilling systems.
Technical Paper

Evaluation of the EMR for Swaging Collars on Advanced Composite Laminates

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be the most fuel-efficient airliner in the world when it enters service in 2008. To help achieve this, Boeing will utilize state-of-the-art carbon fiber for primary structures. Advanced manufacturing techniques and processes will be used in the assembly of large composite structures. Electroimpact has proposed a system utilizing the low recoil Low Voltage Electromagnetic Riveter (LVER) to drill and install bolts. A test program was initiated between Boeing Materials Process and Engineering (MP&E) and Electroimpact to validate the LVER process for swaging titanium collars on titanium pins in composite material. This paper details the results of these tests.
Technical Paper

A Flexible Development System for Automated Aircraft Assembly

McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in St. Louis, MO manufacturers various transport and fighter military aircraft such as the C-17 and the F/A-18. With shrinking military budgets and increased competition, market forces demand high quality parts at lower cost and shorter lead times. Currently, a large number of different fastener types which include both solid rivets and interference bolts are used to fasten these assemblies. The majority of these fasteners are installed by hand or by using manually operated C-Frame riveters. MDA engineers recognized that in order to reach their goals they would be required to rethink all phases of the assembly system, which includes fastener selection, part fixturing and fastener installation methods. Phase 1 of this program is to identify and to develop fastener installation processes which will provide the required flexibility. The EMR fastening process provides this flexibility.
Technical Paper

Wing Manufacturing: Next Generation

Due to the part size and technological limitations of the available assembly equipment, traditional wing manufacturing has consisted of a three stage process. Parts are first manually tacked together in an assembly jig, They are then removed from the jig, rotated horizontally and craned into an automated fastening machine. Finally they are removed from the fastening machines and craned to a third station where the manual tacks are removed and the parts are prepped for final wing box assembly. With the advent of electromagnetic riveting (EMR) and the traveling yoke assembly machine this traditional approach has been replaced with single station processing. Wing panels and spars can now be automatically tacked together under continuous clamp up in their assembly jigs using EMR. This eliminates the requirement for disassembly, debur and cleaning required with the manual process.
Technical Paper

Determinate Assembly of Tooling Allows Concurrent Design of Airbus Wings and Major Assembly Fixtures

Most new aircraft programs encounter the challenge of balancing the time required for design optimization with product delivery constraints. The high cost and long lead times of traditional tooling makes it difficult for aircraft manufactures to efficiently meet ever-changing market demands. The large size, low relative stiffness and high positional tolerances required for aircraft components drive the requirement for rigid fixed tooling to maintain the precision part relationships over time. Use of today’s advance 3-Dimensional CAD systems coupled with the high accuracy of CNC machines enables the success of the determinate assembly approach for aircraft tooling. This approach provides the aircraft manufacturer significant lead-time reductions while at the same time it supports enhanced system flexibility. Determinate assembly for aircraft tooling has been proven to be high successful for tooling manufacture on large-scale system such as the A380 and A340–600 wing assembly projects.
Technical Paper

Automated Wing Drilling System for the A380-GRAWDE

On Airbus aircraft, the undercarriage reinforcing is attached through the lower wing skin using bolts up to 1-inch in diameter through as much as a 4-inch stack up. This operation typically takes place in the wing box assembly jigs. Manual hole drilling for these bolts has traditionally required massive drill templates and large positive feed drill motors. In spite of these large tools, the holes must be drilled in multiple steps to reduce the thrust loads, which adds process time. For the new A380, Airbus UK wanted to explore a more efficient method of drilling these large diameter holes. Introducing automated drilling equipment, which is capable of drilling these holes and still allows for the required manual access within the wing box assembly jig, was a significant challenge. To remain cost effective, the equipment must be flexible and mobile, a llowing it to be used on multiple assemblies.
Technical Paper

Automated Wing Panel Assembly for the A340-600

The Airbus A340-600 wing panel manufacturing system, which entered production in 1999, represents a major milestone for automated aircraft assembly. The new A340-600 system builds upon the success of the E4000 based A320 wing panel assembly system, which was introduced into production three years ago. The new A340-600 system consists of two 440 ft. assembly lines. One produces upper wing skin panels and the second produces lower skin panels. Each line consists of three fully automated CNC controlled flexible fixtures placed end to end serviced by two E4100 CNC assemble machines. Each fixture accepts multiple wing panels and can be automatically changed between the different configurations. Stringers are located and held using clamps mounted to “popping posts”. These posts automatically drop out of the machine path into the floor to provide clearance for complete stringer to skin fastening.
Technical Paper

Development of the Handheld Low Voltage Electromagnetic Riveter

The Handheld Low Voltage Electromagnetic Riveter(HHER) has been under development for the past three years. The HHER is an impulse device deriving its power from the discharge of a bank of capacitors through a pancake coil. This gives the HHER the advantage of an accurate and repeatable output force, which results in exceptional consistency in rivet upset dimensions. The rivet/hole interferences obtainable with the HHER have been shown in many cases to be superior to traditional rivet driving techniques, resulting in riveted joints that exhibit excellent fatigue life.(5) Typically, two opposing guns are used on either side of the rivet. These are synchronized through a control cable of arbitrary length. This feature allows accurate installation of slug rivets by hand, a function that in many cases is not possible with existing handheld tools.
Technical Paper

Integration and Qualification of the HH500 Hand Operated Electromagnetic Riveting System on the 747 Section 11

Hand installation of 3/8", 5/16" and 1/4" diameter fatigue head style fasteners is required on some areas of 747 section 11 (center wing). The 3/8" diameter fasteners can require between 45-60 seconds to upset using conventional pneumatic riveting guns. As part of Boeing’s continuing effort to reduce cycle time and improve the factory working environment, a Boeing Quality Circle Team proposed using LVER technology as an alternative to conventional pneumatic percussion riveting hammers The hand operated HH500 system was developed in response to this request. The HH500 single shot upset reduces installation time as well as the noise levels and vibration experienced by the operators. The design of this system and the integration onto the factory floor are presented. The LVER forming rate is significantly higher than that of conventional pneumatic and hydraulic processes.
Technical Paper

Low Voltage Electromagnetic Lockbolt Installation

British Aerospace, Airbus Ltd., Chester, UK manufactures the main wing box assembly for all current Airbus programs. Titanium interference fasteners are used in large numbers throughout these aircraft structures. On the lower wing skin of the A320 alone there are approximately 11,000 of this fastener type. Currently, the majority of these fasteners are manually installed using pneumatic or hydraulic tooling. British Aerospace engineers recognized the significant potential which automation offers to reduce these current labor intensive installation methods. Electroimpact proposed extending Low Voltage Electromagnetic Riveter (LVER) technology to the automatic installation of these interference fasteners as well as rivets. Close liaison between Airbus and Electroimpact engineers resulted in the development of an automated LVER based lockbolt installation system, which is currently undergoing evaluation.
Technical Paper

ASAT4-Enhanced Flexibility for the C-17

The Automated Spar Assembly Tool or ASAT was originally developed for the Boeing 767 wing spar in the late 1970s. Since then this powerful concept has been further advanced and integrated into nearly all the current Boeing commercial wing lines. A fourth generation system, ASAT4, has been developed for the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. ASAT4 provides an unprecedented level of flexibility in a minimum amount of floor space. Similar to ASAT3, ASAT4 consists of a vertical traveling yoke machine which straddles the spar fixtures. Two fixtures placed end to end form a system approximately 220 feet in length which is serviced by a single machine. This allows manual operations, e.g. load and unload, to be performed on one spar while the machine works in the adjacent cell. Each fixture can accept any of the six C-17 spars. Fixture reconfiguration between spars is completely automatic. The single three axis yoke machine, the E5000, travels the full system length.