Vaughan, D., Branson, D., Bakker, O., and Ratchev, S., "Towards Self-Adaptive Fixturing Systems for Aircraft Wing Assembly," SAE Technical Paper 2015-01-2493, 2015, doi:10.4271/2015-01-2493.
The aim of this work was to develop a new assembly process in conjunction with an adaptive fixturing system to improve the assembly process capability of specific aircraft wing assembly processes. The inherently complex aerospace industry requires a step change in its capability to achieve the production ramp up required to meet the global demand. This paper evaluates the capability of adaptive fixtures to identify their suitability for implementation into aircraft wing manufacturing and assembly. To understand the potential benefits of these fixtures, an examination of the current academic practices and an evaluation of the existing industrial solutions is highlighted. The proposed adaptive assembly process was developed to account for the manufacturing induced dimensional variation that causes significant issues in aircraft wing assembly. To test the effectiveness of the adaptive assembly process, an aircraft wing assembly operation was replicated on a demonstrator test rig. The experimental case study is described and positive initial test data is presented. The demonstrator achieved assemblies that were 0.129 mm and 0.114 mm from the actual target. These initial tests show that a repeatable process is obtainable, but a further increase in accuracy is required. Future work will be bring the system to a higher maturity level to allow for implementation into aircraft assembly processes.