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Technical Paper

5-Axis Flex Track Drilling Systems on Complex Contours: Solutions for Position Control

2013-09-17
2013-01-2224
Previous Flex Track drilling systems move along two parallel tracks that conform to the contour of a work piece surface. Until recently, applications have been limited to relatively simple surfaces such as the cylindrical mid-body fuselage join of a commercial aircraft. Recent developments in the state of the art have introduced the 5-axis variant which is capable of precision drilling on complex contours. This paper presents solutions to two positioning challenges associated with this added functionality: the ability to align the spindle axis normal to an angled drilling surface while maintaining accuracy in tool-point position, the ability to maintain synced motion between dual drives on complex track profiles.
Journal Article

Applied Accurate Robotic Drilling for Aircraft Fuselage

2010-09-28
2010-01-1836
Once limited by insufficient accuracy, the off-the-shelf industrial robot has been enhanced via the integration of secondary encoders at the output of each of its axes. This in turn with a solid mechanical platform and enhanced kinematic model enable on-part accuracies of less than +/−0.25mm. Continued development of this enabling technology has been demonstrated on representative surfaces of an aircraft fuselage. Positional accuracy and process capability was validated in multiple orientations both in upper surface (spindle down) and lower surface (spindle up) configurations. A second opposing accurate robotic drilling system and full-scale fuselage mockup were integrated to simulate doubled throughput and to demonstrate the feasibility of maintaining high on-part accuracy with a dual spindle cell.
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.
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 Drilling and Fastening System for Large Aircraft Doors

2019-03-19
2019-01-1346
Electroimpact has developed a system for drilling and fastening of cargo door structures which efficiently addresses many of the manufacturing challenges that such parts present. Challenges to door automation include 1) the presence of an inner skin that must be processed, in addition to the outer skin, and 2) a stiff frame structure, which makes the clamping and drilling processes that are typical to automated fastening machines very unforgiving of any errors in workpiece positioning. In this case, the manufacturing cell was to be installed in an existing facility with very limited ceiling height, further complicating the system and process design. New methods were devised to solve these problems, and the solutions found will likely have utility in future applications.
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.
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.
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

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

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

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 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.
Journal Article

Increasing Machine Service Life of Large Envelope, High Acceleration AFP Machines

2013-09-17
2013-01-2297
Since Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) is used to manufacture twin-aisled commercial aircraft parts, extremely large envelope machines are often required and appropriate. Additionally, for very large parts, the average AFP course length may be on the order of one to two meters, and the part may have numerous contours. With courses of this length, a high acceleration machine is necessary to achieve fast laydown rates because the machine is frequently starting and stopping. Part contour also requires high acceleration machine axes to accurately maintain the AFP tow path at high feedrates. Large machines with high accelerations result in very large loads on bearings. Large loads and the long, high speed axis travels associated with large envelope machines make achieving a long service life difficult. Designing efficient, lightweight machine structures becomes critical to provide long machine service life.
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

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

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.
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

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.
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