Thursday, February 20, 2014

News: Use of AMRC technologies set to take off

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Innovative assembly technologies pioneered at The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in Rotherham are to be used to assemble aerospace structures 30% faster than is possible today.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), the AMRC is a world leading model partnership between industry and academia that focuses on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It employs around 200 highly qualified researchers and engineers from around the globe, in two purpose-built centres.

AMRC engineers have been working on a complete assembly tooling and robotic strategy with GKN Aerospace and NIKON Metrology that uses many emerging automated and robotic techniques that, as well as speeding assembly, will provide an extremely consistent end product. It has been designed to be generic and therefore equally applicable to many future aircraft wing and fuselage structures.

Worcestershire-based GKN Aerospace, a leader in the manufacture of highly complex composite and metallic aerostructures and engine products, is now advancing this strategy in a new project that aims to automate the assembly of aircraft structures with the goal of creating consistently high-quality wing structures 30% faster than is possible today.

Backed by government funding as part of the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP), the Structures Technology Maturity (STeM) programme is based around an advanced winglet as the demonstrator component.

Among the novel processes being progressed through the programme are: lightweight fixturing, reconfigurable tooling, automated part positioning, assisted deposition of sealant, metrology assisted robotics, lightweight drilling heads, light-weight fastening heads for single sided fasteners, automated scanning for accurate countersink drilling and automated fastener inspection.

Richard Oldfield, technical director at GKN Aerospace, said: "As an industry we must step up production rates to meet future demand whilst ensuring the structures we design and build meet ever more demanding aircraft performance requirements. This STeM project is enabling GKN Aerospace and our partners to evolve and assess a number of promising assembly technologies and processes that could give us the performance, tolerances, affordability and integrity we will need in the coming decades."

GKN Aerospace website
AMRC website

Images: GKN Aerospace

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