OCT 2018


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OCTOBER 2018 58 CompositesWorld FEATURE / Virtual Reality systems his company employs can save up to 70% on prototype costs. CAD data from the company's CATIA V5 design system feed into the VR system to produce the 3D images for the CAVE. "In the end, we can view the developed vehicle on high-resolution power- walls — and even touch it," says Dietz of the IC.IDO experience. "is way, development and installation steps can be accelerated, optimized or done away with entirely." Virtually verifying workcell/worker fit A VR CAVE can be used for virtual interaction not only with prototypes, but also with whole manufacturing and assembly lines, and ESI's IC.IDO is also being used for these applications. Safran Nacelles (Le Havre, France) applied its 4m-wide by 2.5m- high, two-wall IC.IDO CAVE to evaluate its Airbus A330 nacelle production line. e A330 nacelle features an innovative one- piece composite inner structure. Because engineers could accu- rately visualize the tooling needed before ordering hardware, Safran engineers reduced the nacelle's development cycle from 60 to 42 months. Equally as significant as the time savings was the economic value of the VR system, reports Nicolas Lepape, Safran Nacelles' research and technology project manager for virtual and augmented reality. "e typical cost of creating a virtual reality CAVE is €100,000 to €200,000 – which is equivalent to the average price of one major piece of tooling for a final assembly line," he points out. Back at Lockheed Martin's CHIL facility, in addition to the company's CAVE, a second VR approach enables engineers, as noted above, to enter and interact with the virtual world by donning an array of body sensors and standing in a motion- capture area. e advantage here is the ability to directly check, for example, something as simple — but as time- and cost-crit- ical — as whether a fastener position can actually be reached by an installer within an assembly. By analyzing design and manu- facturing processes in the virtual world before building physical facilities and components, CHIL enables engineers and techni- cians to analyze, evaluate and modify systems and processes when the expenditure of time and the financial investment for the latter will be at its lowest. Additionally, VR evaluation enables Lockheed Martin to easily and inexpensively maximize worker safety and productivity by developing ergonomically sound manufacturing cells and equipment. CHIL evaluates all stages of the product development lifecycle for Lockheed Martin systems, so application to composite compo- nents is part and parcel of the broader program. One recent CHIL evaluation was performed on the main propulsion fuel tank for the company's new LM 2100-series satellite bus, which is a major redesign of the company's proven A 2100-series. "We used CHIL to make sure we could install the tank," explains Andrew Bushell, senior manufacturing engineer at the company's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, US. e 117 cm-diam- eter metal tank with composites overwrap plays a critical role in meeting goals of decreased production time and costs for the new series. "ere were questions about reach, fit and line of sight," Bushell recalls. "It was very helpful to get a feel, ergonomically, of what we were up against. We have drawings and dimensions, but you don't have a true appreciation until you have it in virtual reality." Bushell notes, for example, that the VR motion-capture system was used to test whether a technician could reach a high-torque bolt and, with arm extended, operate the torque wrench safely and effec- tively. Bushell adds that the composite overwrap required special attention during the VR simulation. "We looked at all our surface contacts and made sure there was no direct contact with the composite overwrap, to protect it from scratching." (In an inter- esting sidelight, since the LM 2100 tank was moved into produc- tion using conventional manufacturing methods, Lockheed Martin also has qualified a 3D-printed version of the tank for space flight.) Lockheed is currently using CHIL to develop AR applications for its space programs, and the facility has hosted investigators from other business units to perform evaluations and to collaborate on VR/AR advancements and applications across the Lockheed Martin technology spectrum. An application of VR manufacturing floor design at the Airbus Broughton, UK facility assists engineers there in the validation of composites manufacturing methods and process improvements required for the A350 XWB aircraft. Its wing is built in a horizontal, rather than the more common vertical, configuration. Airbus wanted to prove it could build the wing this way before investing in the tooling. "ey wanted to simulate the whole assembly process in a virtual environment," recalls Julian Ford, business develop- ment manager at VR supplier Virtalis (Manchester, UK). Airbus chose the Virtalis ActiveWorks VR suite for this appli- cation. Geoff Tantum, then the engineering group leader for Virtual overlay on actual layup PlyMatch monitor accurately displays where to position the next ply to be laid up. Source: Systima Technologies

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