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Composites for Aerospace: Faster, More Automated

The aerospace industry continues to increase its use of composites, a phenomenon that’s pushing academics, trade groups and manufacturers to research and develop methods to enhance the techniques and tools for using the materials.

Tooling and Workholding Systems

“We are developing solutions for power workholding such as hydraulic swing clamps and block clamps, because the real estate on a fixture is so valuable,” says Jason Betz, product specialist for Carr Lane Roemheld (St. Louis). “This pushes the use of smaller workholding components as much as possible because the more parts on the fixture the greater the productivity.”

Metal Parts Follow Tough Plastics Act

When you walk into the Redeye On Demand facility in Eden Prairie, MN, you enter into one version of the factory of the future. There you will see a bank of 100 high-end Fortus fused-deposition modeling (FDM) machines from Stratasys that provide the capacity to build real, functional parts with production-grade thermoplastics directly from CAD data.

Aerospace Builders Automate Processes

Automation development in the aerospace industry has quickened its pace, with the aviation and defense industries attempting to further automate manufacturing processes to meet growing OEM order backlogs and critical aerospace-defense program deadlines.

Electropolishing Automation

Today’s products require high finishes, burr-free edges, freedom from contamination, and often close tolerances. Electropolishing provides all of those conditions and more in a matter of seconds for many metal parts. It is a process that has been used for more than a hundred years. It is widely known and the science is widely discussed, but its ability to run job shop lots and high-precision high-volume parts in the same equipment makes it a bit unique.

CAD/CAM Tools Ease Programming Complexity

Advanced simulation, new toolpath techniques aid programming of highly complex machinery. CAD/CAM software developers continue to refine simulation capabilities and toolpath techniques that enable programming highly complex equipment including multiaxis and multitasking machine tools.