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Automated metrology and NDE measurements for increased throughput in aerospace component manufacture

MacLeod, Charles Norman and Pierce, Stephen and Morozov, Maxim and Summan, Rahul and Dobie, Gordon and McCubbin, Paul and McCubbin, Coreen and Dearie, Scott and Munro, Gavin (2014) Automated metrology and NDE measurements for increased throughput in aerospace component manufacture. In: E-Book of Abstracts 41st Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation Conference. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, p. 335.

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Abstract

Quality and conformance checks can be a serious limitation on production throughput in aerospace manufacturing. Traditionally Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) and metrology measurements are undertaken at different stages of a product manufacture cycle using specific dedicated equipment and personnel. However since both processes involve direct interaction with the component’s surface, an opportunity exists to combine these to potentially reduce overall cycle time. In addition when considering moves towards automation of both inspection processes, it is clear that measured metrology data is an essential input parameter to the automated NDE workflow. The authors present the findings of a proof of concept combined sub scale NDE and Metrology demonstrator cell for aerospace components. Permitting a maximum part area size of 3 x 1 m, KUKA KR5 6 degree of freedom robotic manipulators were utilized to deploy two inspection payloads. Firstly automated non-contact photogrammetric metrology measurement was employed to inspect the structure for conformance of dimension in relation to reference designs (available from CAD). Secondly automated phased array technology was deployed to inspect and produce ultrasonic thickness mapping of components of nominal 20mm thickness. Parameters such as overall cycle time, part dimensional accuracy, robotic path accuracy and data registration are assessed in the paper to highlight both the current state of the art performance available and the future direction of required research focus.