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Journal Article

11 Reasons to Use Automated Metrology

2019-03-19
2019-01-1369
Aerospace structures manufacturers find themselves frequently engaged in large-scale 3D metrology operations, conducting precision measurements over a volume expressed in meters or tens of meters. Such measurements are often done by metrologists or other measurement experts and may be done in a somewhat ad-hoc fashion, i.e., executed in the most appropriate method according to the lights of the individual conducting the measurement. This approach is certainly flexible but there are arguments for invoking a more rigorous process. Production processes, in particular, demand an automated process for all such “routine” measurements. Automated metrology offers a number of advantages including enabling data configuration management, de-skilling of operation, real time input data error checking, enforcement of standards, consistent process execution and automated data archiving. It also reduces training, setup time, data manipulation and analysis time and improves reporting.
Technical Paper

A Phased Approach to Optimized Robotic Assembly for the 777X

2019-03-19
2019-01-1375
Low rate initial production of the 777X flight control surfaces and wing edges has been underway at the Boeing St. Louis site since early 2017. Drilling, inspection, and temporary fastening tasks are performed by automated multi-function robotic systems supplied by Electroimpact. On the heels of the successful implementation of the initial four (4) systems, Phases II and III are underway to meet increasing production demands with three (3) and four (4) new cells coming online, respectively. Assemblies are dedicated to particular cells for higher-rate production, while all systems are designed for commonality offering strategic backup capability. Safe operation and equipment density are optimized through the use of electronic safeguards. New time-saving process capabilities allow for one-up drilling, hole inspection, fastening, fastener inspection, and stem shaving.
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

Automated Metrology Solution to Reduce Downtime and De-Skill Tooling Recertification

2012-09-10
2012-01-1869
Wing and fuselage aircraft structures require large precise tools for assembly. These large jigs require periodic re-certification to validate jig accuracy, yet metrology tasks involved may take the tool out of service for a week or more and typically require highly specialized personnel. Increasing the time between re-certifications adds the risk of making out-of-tolerance assemblies. How can we reduce jig re-certification down time without increasing the risk of using out-of-tolerance tooling? An alternative, successfully tested in a prototype tool, is to bring automated metrology tools to bear. Specifically, laser tracker measurements can be automated through a combination of off-the-shelf & custom software, careful line-of-sight planning, and permanent embedded targets. Retro-reflectors are placed at critical points throughout the jig. Inaccessible (out of reach) tool areas are addressed through the use of low cost, permanent, shielded repeatability targets.
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

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.
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.
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.
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

C919 Trailing Edge Assembly Interchangeable Tooling

2019-09-16
2019-01-1880
Traditional Trailing Edge (TE) assembly that utilise fixtures for accurate positioning of aircraft (a/c) parts do not allow for removal of specific tooling from the fixtures to travel with the TE, post assembly. Instead, the tooling that positions all the primary a/c assembly datums generally utilise precision pins of various sizes that index and clamp the a/c ribs. Often it is difficult to remove the pins post assembly before the spar can be taken out of the fixture. Use of hammers is common place to hit pins out of holes which is less than ideal considering the a/c parts can be fragile and the tooling is precision set. Also, the Main Assembly Fixture (MAJ) that will receive the TE will inevitably need to relocate some if not all the primary a/c ribs and therefore will most likely be subject to some amount of persuasion.
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

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.
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.
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

High Path Accuracy, High Process Force Articulated Robot

2013-09-17
2013-01-2291
Spirit AeroSystems' process of producing carbon fiber nacelle panels requires heat and high force plus a high level of dynamic accuracy. Traditionally this would require large and expensive custom machines. A low cost robotic alternative was developed to perform the same operations utilizing an off-the-shelf 6-axis robot mated to a servo-controlled linear axis. Each of the 7 axes is enhanced with secondary position encoders and the entire system is controlled by a Siemens 840Dsl CNC. The CNC handles all process functions, robot motion, and executes software technologies developed for superior dynamic positional accuracy, including enhanced kinematics. The layout of the work cell allowed the robot to span two work zones so that parts can be loaded and unloaded while the robot continues working in the adjacent zone.
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

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

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.
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.
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