Erdem, I., Helgosson, P., Gomes, A., and Engstrom, M., "Automated Flexible Tooling for Wing Box Assembly: Hexapod Development Study," SAE Technical Paper 2016-01-2110, 2016, doi:10.4271/2016-01-2110.
The ability to adapt to rapidly evolving market demands continues to be the one of the key challenges in the automation of assembly processes in the aerospace industry. To meet this challenge, industry and academia have made efforts to automate flexible fixturing. LOCOMACHS (Low Cost Manufacturing and Assembly of Composite and Hybrid Structures) - a European Union funded project with 31 partners - aims to address various aspects of aero-structure assembly with a special attention directed to the development of a new build philosophy along with relevant enabling technologies. This paper aims to present the results on the developed wing box build philosophy and the integration of automated flexible tooling solutions into the assembly process. The developed solution constitutes the use of synchronized hexapods for the assembly of front spar to upper cover whereas another hexapod was developed to install a rib by using of a force feedback sensor. Both hexapod applications have undergone parametrized mechanical design to provide adaptability to various applications. Furthermore, synchronous control of multiple hexapods has been developed to manipulate and hold the front spar in position and withstand the drilling forces applied by an external automated drilling system during the assembly of cover to spar. Finally, discrete state assembly system utilizing force and torque feedback has been developed to perform the assembly of a rib in order to demonstrate the intelligence capability of hexapods.