Cunov, J. and Habermann, C., "Adaptive Manufacturing System," SAE Int. J. Aerosp. 7(2):322-327, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-2273.
The ever increasing use of composites for aircraft components presents opportunities for new ways to process these parts. There are myriad benefits for use of composites in achieving aircraft performance goals. However, composites come with unique challenges as well. Some of these challenges impact the ability to produce accurate parts. Traditionally, such parts have been trimmed only while clamped in dedicated rigid tools that secure the part in the nominal shape. This results in significant investment in tooling design, production, maintenance, storage and, handling. As an alternative, PaR has developed its Adaptive Manufacturing System that incorporates a Robotic Fixture and Precision Motion Machine with an Integrated Process Head. The Robotic Fixture allows the entire family of parts to be managed with one fixture that remains within the machine footprint. The fixture is programmed to command 38 individual robots to assume appropriate poses and end effector configurations to accommodate over 400 different parts in the family that range in length from 0.5 to 20 meters. Once the part(s) is loaded in the fixture, the system automatically scans the part to determine the actual location and contour, as presented to the machine. The actual measurements are compared against reference data, which defines the nominal condition. This allows the machine to automatically develop adaptive tool paths that trim the part, so that the part will be the right size when constrained to its nominal condition. Trimming is done with abrasive waterjet, using multiple different catchers to accommodate different accessibility conditions. A spindle is also integrated into the same head as the waterjet and laser scanners, to accommodate hole drilling and edge chamfering. After the trimming operations are complete, the system washes and dries the part. A subsequent geometric inspection is performed using either a probe in the spindle, or the laser scanners. The inspection uses DMIS programming and results in an inspection report to go with the completed part. This paper will further describe the challenges and technology implemented in the development of this system.