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Aerospace Automation Picks Up the Pace

With thousands of fastener locations that need to be drilled and filled to complete a plane, drilling and fastening remain the largest areas of opportunity for automated robotics applications in aerospace. New developments are also making robots more attractive than ever in the aerospace and defense space—especially improved rigidity and accuracy in the robots themselves.

Robotic Welding Fills Skills Gap with Quality Production

The decision to adopt robotic automation for welding cells is getting easier every day. There are any number of manufacturing considerations influencing that decision, including quality, productivity, and consistency of the weld. Today, however, the key driver is the lack of skilled welders available to fill the requirements of shops both large and small.

Taking the Factory’s Pulse with Shop-Floor Monitoring

To run factories at optimal efficiency, plant managers need to mine real-time shop-floor operational data as fast as possible, to quickly determine where and when any manufacturing process bottlenecks occur. With today’s shop-floor data management software and related hardware solutions, manufacturers can leverage more key production performance data than ever in order to fine-tune their manufacturing processes.

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.

Lean Efforts Capture the Shingo

A subsidiary of HNI Corp. (Mustacine, IA), the second-largest manufacturer of office furniture in North America, Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT; Mt. Pleasant, IA) manufactures sheetmetal fireplaces (both wood and gas-burning), vent pipe, and fireplace accessories. The company has four manufacturing facilities.

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.

Tooling to Match Composite Production

It’s getting harder to imagine any market that isn’t benefiting from the latest developments in parts manufactured from advanced composites. “Advanced composites will arguably dominate consumer and production products, especially in the near future,” says Bert Erdel, industry consultant and executive technology advisor, Morris Group Inc. (Windsor, CT), “as they have begun to gain wide acceptance in solving energy-related issues.”