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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.
Journal Article

Unique Non-Orthogonal TCP Intersecting AFP Axes Design

2012-09-10
2012-01-1862
Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) machines typically consist of 3 linear and 3 rotary axes of motion in order to manufacture complex shapes. These axes are generally orthogonal and semi-coupled. In these designs, a linear axis move will not affect the rotary axes orientation whereas a rotary axis move will affect the Tool Center Point (TCP) location with respect to the linear axes position. The wide range of motion required to maintain the compaction-axis normality needed for carbon fiber layup tends to prevent all of the rotational axes from passing through the TCP. The location and arrangement of these rotational axes has a great effect on the AFP machine performance and controllability during high speed layup. This paper presents a unique kinematic AFP axes design consisting of replacing the 3 orthogonal rotary axes with 3 tool-center-point-intersecting coupled-axes which decouple the linear axes from the rotary axes.
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

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.
Technical Paper

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

2009-11-10
2009-01-3155
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

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.
Journal Article

Rivet and Bolt Injector with Bomb Bay Ejection Doors

2013-09-17
2013-01-2151
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.
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

Portable 2 Axis Milling Machine for CFRP

2012-09-10
2012-01-1879
As part of a Composite Wing Manufacture Program, Electroimpact was asked to design and develop a small portable milling machine for machining CFRP. The machine needed to be light so it could be lifted by two operators, robust to the production environment, and stiff enough to allow it to cut a 15 mm deep 3/8\mi slot through composite material (CFRP), in one pass, with no delamination. The machine also needed to be capable of performing a 30 mm deep finishing cut, in one pass, with 3 μm or better surface finish. Specialist Polycrystalline Diamond (PDC) roughing cutters were developed for the cutting process to reduce cutting loads and vibration while maximizing cutter life. The machine also needed to be capable of cutting along a 2 axis path. Electroimpact successfully introduced the machine in to the production environment in October 2011, within a 12 month development window.
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

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

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

Next Generation Mobile Robotic Drilling and Fastening Systems

2014-09-16
2014-01-2259
Electroimpact has developed a second generation of mobile robots with several improvements over the first generation. The frame has been revised from a welded steel tube to a welded steel plate structure, making the dynamic response of the structure stiffer and reducing load deflections while maintaining the same weight. The deflections of the frame have been optimized to simplify position compensation. The caster mechanism is very compact, offers greater mounting flexibility, and improved maneuverability. The mechanism uses a pneumatic airbag for both lifting and suspension. The robot sled has been improved to offer greater rigidity for the same weight, and dual secondary feedback scales on the vertical axis further improve the rigidity of the overall system. Maintenance access has been improved by rerouting the cable and hose trays, and lowering the electrical cabinet.
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.
Journal Article

LTD Bolt Injection System

2011-10-18
2011-01-2776
Growing use of composite materials in aircraft wing construction requires a new generation of drilling machines. Electroimpact's new LTD drilling machine features a Bolt Injector with improvements for more streamlined operation and less operator intervention. The Bolt Injector “injects” or stages Single Sided Temporary Fasteners (SSTF). It features hands-free automated tool change between three different feed paths for a total of eight different fastener diameters being fed through one set of Bolt Injector hardware. This is accomplished with an indexing system for three feed tubes fed to the machine head, with each feed tube serving more than one diameter. Furthermore the LTD Bolt Injector checks fastener diameter at the machine head and also length in conjunction with Bolt Inserter servo axis. The bolt diameter is checked with an analog sensor attached to a gripping mechanism. The length check is accomplished with a “touch off” pad and the Inserter's servo motor encoder.
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

Increasing Machine Accuracy by Spatially Compensating Large Scale Machines for Use in Constructing Aerospace Structures

2013-09-17
2013-01-2298
Starting in 2003 Electroimpact began development on a comprehensive kinematic and compensation software package for machines with large envelopes. The software was first implemented on Electroimpact's Automatic Fiber Placement (AFP) equipment. Implementation became almost universal by 2005. By systematically collecting tracker measurements at various machine poses and then using this software to optimize the kinematic parameters of the machine, we are able to reliably achieve machine positional accuracy of approximately 2x the uncertainty of the measurements themselves. The goal of this paper is to document some of the features of this system and show the results of compensation in the hope that this method of machine compensation or similar versions will become mainstream.
Journal Article

Implementation of Non-Contact Drives into a High-Rail, 7-Axis, AFP Motion Platform

2013-09-17
2013-01-2288
Traditionally, automated fiber placement (AFP) motion platforms use rack and pinion drive trains coupled through a gearbox to a rotary motor. Extensive use of non-contact linear motors on a new AFP motion platform produces a quiet, low-maintenance system without sacrificing precision. A high-rail gantry arrangement allows dynamic performance improvements to machine acceleration and speed, while lowering power consumption costs and capital expenses. The seventh axis incorporated into the machine arrangement effectively produces an effective “five sides of a cube” work envelope, permitting complex spar and panel fabrication.
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

Frame-Clip Riveting End Effector

2013-09-17
2013-01-2079
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.
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