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Robots in the Aerospace Industry

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…yes, it is a plane, on which robots have spent countless hours working!  Robots play an important role in aerospace applications, in both the construction of aircraft engines as well as performing tasks such as drilling and painting airframes.  Because of robots’ reliability, capability, and precision, their popularity in the aerospace industry is growing.

Even though robots might be generally associated with the automotive industry or working with tiny electronic components, they are just as accurate in the aerospace industry working with larger components.  The output volume in aerospace is probably lower, but the same type of repeatability and precision is demanded as in other industries.

The task robots are most often used for in aerospace applications is drilling holes into components.  Thousands of holes might need to be drilled into a fuselage, for example, and since the job must be precise, robots are a perfect choice for consistent and speedy results.  Robots equipped with vision systems can locate where the robot needs to drill on the airframe.  Manual drilling is difficult, and maintaining high quality is unlikely; therefore, robots are chosen to repeat the drilling process an infinite number of times, with the same precise results each time.

Not only is the robots’ work more precise, but it is also cost-effective as well.  Drilling costs are actually reduced when using a robot.  Further, robots save time.  A robot can drill a hole in a single step, whereas it might have taken a human counterpart four steps to make the same drill. 

Painting, another common task for robots in aerospace, can remove people from hazardous environments.  A robot doesn’t require scaffolding, and instead, with a large work envelope, can expand and paint the large part itself.  Since the airframes are massive, multiple robots are used for ultimate efficiency for all tasks. Applying secondary encoders affords the operator more control over the robot, therefore achieving a higher rate of accuracy on the large components.

People don’t realize how much they rely on robots when it comes to inspecting the airframes and aircraft they are flying in.  Robots look for cracks or de-lamination of composites, and ensure rivets are intact through ultrasonic and imaging methods, which are non-destructive.

Aerospace RobotsRobots can also be used for automated fiber placement of composite fuselages.  During the laying of carbon fiber strips, accuracy and quality is extremely crucial.  Robots help eliminate errors made by precise fiber cutting and placement.  They also help reduce the weight of the plane by being so precise. 

FANUC Robotics provides many robot models suited for aerospace operations, like the M-710iC that can remove coatings from aerospace equipment.  FANUC’s Learning Vibrations Control allows the robot to learn its vibration characteristics for higher accelerations and speeds.  It collects learning data and then optimizes the motion to have shorter accelerations while keeping vibration to a minimum.  LVC, in combination with iRVision and secondary encoders, provides a cutting-edge new technology for operations demanding high accuracy and high speed.  This type of accuracy, with low vibration, improves aerospace manufacturing.

KUKA Robotics places an emphasis on safety in the aerospace industry:  the slightest error can cause a huge breach in safety.  KUKA’s six-axis robots guarantee precision in cleanrooms, explosive areas, uniform surface treatment, and complex assembly tasks.  These multifunctional robots produce optimal safety results. 

The demand for robots in the aerospace industry will continue to grow as our society becomes more innovative and progressive.  RobotWorx coordinates with the needs of aersopace companies.  They provide new or refurbished robots that can be used for a large variety of these applications.  If you are interested in buying an aerospace industry robot, contact RobotWorx here or call 740-251-4312.