JUL 2018


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NEWS 35 Factory of the Future? frames, typically made separately and installed by hand on the inside of the skin. e overwound grooved rings replace all of that." He adds that in existing composite aircraft, MTorres calculates that stringers account for 30% of the material but 70% of the cost. When the overwinding is complete — a five-layer laminate (Step 11, p. 33), for a total thickness of less than 4 mm in the skin/ ring structure, was used in the demonstrator (again, customizable for a specific aircraft) — cauls are placed, the entire fuselage is bagged, the skin is infused with resin and oven-cured. After cure, the fuselage is transferred to a machining cell, where a robotic head cuts window and door openings. en it is taken to the final station before shipment (Step 12, p. 33), where workers manually install required electronics and avionics, and add seating. Is this the future? e Torreswing process is designed to eliminate virtually all metallic fasteners and rivets, a significant weight savings over today's aircraft, says the company. e adhesive used to bond the elemental rings, says Idareta, would be equivalent in weight to the shimming material used on conventionally built aircraft. And, with the high degree of robotic automation, cycle time and touch labor would be significantly reduced, resulting in process simplification and much lower manufacturing costs. For example, he adds, the number and size of part-specific tooling and the time needed for part production on that tooling would reduce manufacturing costs significantly. Other advantages include elimination of the autoclave in favor of oven cure, and use of dry fiber, reducing material cost. Although it's a TRL 6 project, only one demonstrator has been built so far — the fuselage shown at JEC, using equipment similar to that depicted in the step photos. But there are plenty of opportu- nities for a first customer trial. "ere are a lot of proposals for new aircraft today, and we see a big market, which we believe would justify this factory concept." Idareta acknowledges, of course, that certification of a bonded structure could be a challenge, given a regulatory environment that currently requires redundant fasteners for certification. "Our point of view," he says, "is how to enable the plane of the future using the factory of the future. We've designed for automation, not just for manufacturing." He also notes that a number of composites manufacturers in other indus- tries are showing interest in the automated factory concept behind the innovative aircraft design, taking care to point out, "We're not aircraft designers, we're factory automation specialists." Sara Black is a CW senior editor and has served on the CW staff for 19 years. +1 775.827.6568 Leading the World in Advanced Composite Training Since 1983! TRAINING INDUSTRY FOR WHAT'S NEXT Classes Fill-Up Fast, Enroll Today!

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