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Automation in Aerospace


F-35’s J450 Wing Overlap drilling at Lockheed. VRSI’s Brett Bordyn, director of technology, presented a paper describing the project at the Defense Manufacturing Conference 2012 in Orlando, FL. The system is designed to fully automate drilling more than 1500 holes per F-35 aircraft, using FARO Vantage laser trackers and laser pointer beacons, Kuka robots, and a Zagar drilling head, to improve hole quality and process repeatability while lowering costs and increasing throughput. VRSI did development work on the system’s integrated inspec- tion capabilities, and in testing, the AARG has drilled holes within a 0.007" (0.18-mm) radius.


“Another area where we have found that we can bring quality and productivity gains is in integrated feature inspec- tion—not necessarily measuring the positioning of the ma- chine but measuring the feature that the machine creates,” Kleemann said. “The AARG system is a new prototype SBIR we’re working on that has external metrology for positional guidance, but it also has a laser triangulation scanner and


a noncontact bore probe integrated into the end effector. As soon as a hole is drilled, we can scan with the laser scanner, measure the countersink quality and surface characteristics in great detail, then insert the noncontact bore probe and measure hole diameter as well as grip length; it can even do a complete scan and see things like liquid shim blowout or exit burr—that’s something that’s required by the process.”


Robots Add Rigidity, Improve Accuracy Newer, more rigid robots like the new Fanuc Robotics M-


900iB/700 shown at IMTS 2012 are geared specifically toward aerospace applications. At IMTS, Fanuc demonstrated the system M-900iB/700, which has a 2.83-m horizontal reach and a 700-kg payload, drilling an airframe fuselage panel while monitored by a laser measurement system to show how little deflection occurred during the drilling process. “We’re still working on things like making the robots more accurate and more rigid, but we developed the new M-900


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