Spirit AeroSystems Using Robotics for Quality Inspection of…

Spirit AeroSystems Using Robotics for Quality Inspection of…

Jan 28, 2019

“Spirit AeroSystems Using Robotics for Quality Inspection of Large-Scale Aerospace Structures” Featured on Design-2-Part Magazine  WICHITA, Kan.—Spirit AeroSystems engineers have combined a wide range of robotics hardware and software technologies to meet the complex needs of inspecting the company’s composite aerospace components, such as fuselages, wings, and substructures, the company reported. “Typically, inspections for meeting customer requirements have been done by large, fixed systems that are difficult to adapt to new applications,” said Spirit Vice President, Global Quality, Dan Caughran, in a press release. “Our new approach is built around two industrial robots that can interchange among seven different sensors and multiple inspection methods. In short, had this technology not been available, we would have had to rely on solutions of far less flexibility and roughly twice the cost.” “Either cooperatively or independently, the robots automatically inspect complex composite parts up to 200 feet long, dramatically reducing the time required for inspection—sometimes up to 40 percent faster,” said Mike Grosser, Spirit’s lead nondestructive inspection (NDI) engineer. “Analysis of the results is achieved through advanced phased array digital signal processing, which can be automated through machine learning.” Spirit is implementing the new robotic NDI technology at its headquarters location in Wichita, Kansas, and plans to use similar technology at its Prestwick, Scotland, facility. Spirit engineers are also investigating and applying robotics technology for other manufacturing applications where flexible automation—such as machining, sealing, and material handling—is required. Spirit AeroSystems (www.spiritaero.com), focusing on composite and aluminum manufacturing, designs and builds aerostructures for commercial and defense customers. The company’s core products include fuselages, pylons, nacelles, and wing components for the world’s premier aircraft. Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Spirit operates sites in the U.S.,...

When Is 3D Printing Cost Effective?

When Is 3D Printing Cost Effective?

Oct 30, 2018

By Christina M. Fuges, Contributing Editor, Additive Manufacturing Hype continues to surround additive manufacturing. These three factors can help determine whether a part is worth 3D printing. Digging into metal additive manufacturing quickly reveals how expensive it can be, as some parts produced using incumbent technologies, such as laser sintering and binder jetting, can cost thousands of dollars. If there’s one lesson Matt Sand, President of 3DEO, a Los Angeles, California-based metal AM parts supplier, has learned over the last few years, it’s that cost is everything when it comes to serial production. “If you’re not in the ballpark on cost, you might as well not even play the game because there’s no way to get into production without being cost competitive with conventional manufacturing techniques,” Sand says. “If you are not cost competitive, you’re not at the table,” So, to get the total cost structure down, 3DEO developed an end-to-end manufacturing process around Intelligent Layering, a very low-cost metal additive manufacturing technology the company’s founders invented. Based on binder jetting technology, Intelligent Layering uses a proprietary spray system to bind the entire layer, and then uses a CNC end mill to cut the perimeter of the part and any internal features. (Read more about 3DEO’s technology and company strategy.) Although 3DEO’s Intelligent Layering process offers a new take on additive, the company’s differentiator is that “we are not trying to sell machines, we’re only selling parts,” Sand says. The competition for its additive process is not metal 3D printing; it’s traditional manufacturing. 3DEO is competing against CNC machining and metal injection molding and is already cost competitive with both of these technologies when it comes to small and complex metal parts, according to Sand. There are three key factors he considers in determining whether it will be cost-effective to 3D print a given part:  1. Part Size Is it bigger/smaller than a golf ball? One thing Sand has learned over the last few years is that as part size increases, the cost increases on an exponential curve. Smaller (golf ball-sized) parts manufactured traditionally are price competitive. However, as the part size starts to reach softball size and greater, the cost skyrockets. It’s not uncommon in laser sintering for very...

Mobile Computing – The Eyes That Empower People on the…

Mobile Computing – The Eyes That Empower People on the…

Aug 29, 2018

“Mobile Computing – The Eyes That Empower People on the Plant Floor” By Chris Ealahan, Sales Manager at Teguar Corporation Featured on Manufacturing.net The robots are taking over! Not so fast. In the real world of manufacturing, there is no man vs. machine terminator war when it comes to getting jobs done. Rather, there are functions that both sides do better than the other. A lot of these activities have to be done using on-the-spot deductive reasoning that, people, for the most part, are endowed with. The most successful manufacturing operations must have capable employees, but they must also be empowered to do their jobs. Just sending them out on the plant floor with a clipboard is not the way to do it. These technicians need ways to gather information and intervene when necessary that are as advanced as the systems they are interfacing. Mobile computing devices play a big role in enabling plant workers to stay on top of the operation as they traverse the vast expanse of the plant floor. People As Part of the System Just about all plants, regardless of size, are being managed with the help of Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP), such as Warehouse Management Systems. Enabling control and getting operational information to the ERP happens by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), an array of connected electronics, site software, sensors, actuators, and connectors that make up its nerve system. The challenge has been getting sufficient visibility into the job at hand for the most efficient results. Advancements in cloud technology, independent of location, are providing real-time, contextual data directly to technicians’ devices. As a result, IIoT connected processes enable information-sharing and increase collaboration, along with helping technicians understand cause and effect. The job experience changes from simply receiving and completing tasks, to demonstrating increased levels of responsibility and increased comprehension of the system as a whole. Mobile Computing: the Tool for Accessing the ERP System Not too long ago, workers were discouraged from bringing cell phones and tablets into the work place, over a concern about distractions. A growing number of employees are being wired. Management is beginning to relent on the device ban and is slowly coming to...

Taking IIoT to the Edge

Taking IIoT to the Edge

Jul 25, 2018

By Jeff Reinke, Industrial Equipment News (IEN) Edge computing’s ability to supply real-time, plant-floor data will continue to drive it forward. The Industrial Internet of Things has unlocked a number of opportunities that the manufacturing sector can now leverage in streamlining operations, improving quality and cutting costs. However, perhaps the most unique benefit of the IIoT has been the ability to customize the application of these technologies according to the needs and preferences of a specific enterprise – even as the number of solutions falling under the scope of IIoT continues to expand. To discuss one such example, IEN recently sat down with John Fryer, senior director of industry solutions at Stratus, to discuss best practices for leveraging IIoT capabilities with Edge Computing strategies.  Jeff Reinke, IEN Editorial Director: The concept of a connected enterprise has been around for a while, but what do you think were the driving factors that brought the term “Internet of Things” into manufacturing’s lexicon? John Fryer, Senior Director of Industry Solutions, Status: Firstly, we should not forget that “connectivity” and “analytics” have been key components of industrial automation implementations since the first uses of digital controls over 40 years ago. PLC’s have been used to control plant floor activities in many industries, but often in isolated silos. The key elements of the “Internet of Things” are ubiquitous connectivity, almost unlimited computing power and advanced analytics, often using machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies. The advent of the Internet has driven exponential growth in digital connectivity, primarily in human to machine interaction. In recent years, this has been extended to machine-to-machine interaction and the introduction of machine learning to enable automated control of “things”. Perhaps the best examples are self-learning thermostats in homes, which can also be connected to safety systems, such as fire alarms.  Providing plant-wide connectivity with standard technologies, such as Ethernet (or variants) and using the Internet Protocols (IP) enables interconnection of disparate systems, both within the plant, and between plants and Enterprise systems. This makes it easier to deploy additional computing power at the Edge, within a plant, or in the Cloud, and to apply analytic and machine learning technologies to improve a whole range of production and business processes....

Desktop 3D Printer Offers Speed, Precision, Ability to Work in…

Desktop 3D Printer Offers Speed, Precision, Ability to Work in…

Jun 18, 2018

“Desktop 3D Printer Offers Speed, Precision, Ability to Work in Metal” Featured on D2PMagazine.com Airwolf 3D calls its newly released EVO a rugged ‘additive manufacturing center’ that is powered by an automotive-grade microcontroller FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif.—Airwolf 3D recently released EVO, its 5th generation 3D printer that is said to be so advanced that Airwolf calls it a desktop “Additive Manufacturing Center,” or AMC. “The EVO is completely new and it’s unlike anything out there,” said Airwolf 3D Co-Founder and CEO Erick Wolf, in a company release. “We took the technology that we perfected with our prosumer line of 3D printers and leveraged it to develop a machine that’s light years beyond anything else on the market. The EVO is faster, stronger, and more accurate than any desktop 3D printer—it delivers a premium 3D manufacturing experience at less than half the cost of machines that offer equivalent performance. Plus, it’s packed with new technology that dramatically changes the way we manufacture, including the ability to work in metals. The EVO far surpasses the capabilities of a traditional desktop 3D printer. It’s a true desktop Additive Manufacturing Center.” The EVO possesses Airwolf 3D’s signature suite of features—auto-leveling, large build size, high-temperature multi-material printing, and compatibility with water-soluble Hydrofill support material—but in an ultra-ruggedized unit that includes cutting-edge features available only from Airwolf 3D. Most notable among these is the industry-first PartSave™. Nicknamed “Zombie Mode,” PartSave solves one of the most frustrating problems with 3D printing. There are few things more disheartening than 3D printing a part for hours, only to have it fail completely if the printer stops because of a power outage or unplugging the machine. With PartSave, once power is restored, the machine resumes where it left off, enabling the part to finish. Another industry-first feature, the company said, is FailSafe™. If you run out of filament or experience a jam, FailSafe™ has you covered. Just place the print head at the height you left off and FailSafe will do the rest, restoring your print and completing the job with time to spare, according to Airwolf. The EVO also ships with a full-color 7–inch Matrix touchscreen display, new Tri-Heat™ Enclosed Build Environment, an oversized...