The development of a fast inspection system for complex aerospace composite structure

Cooper, Ian and Nicholson, Pascual Ian and Liaptsis, Dimos and Mineo, Carmelo and Wright, Ben (2014) The development of a fast inspection system for complex aerospace composite structure. In: 25th Advanced Aerospace Materials and Processes Conference and Exposition, 2014-06-16 - 2014-06-19.

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Abstract

The increasing use of composite materials across a range of industries is well documented. In the aerospace industry this has been driven by a desire to build lighter structures, to improve corrosion, impact and fatigue resistance and to reduce the cost of manufacture. Although great strides have been made in these areas, manufacturing costs are still a concern. This is partly due to the cost of raw materials, but also due to the historically labour intensive method of manufacture. The industry requirement to inspect every part can result in the Non-Destructive Testing process becoming a bottleneck resulting in reduced production throughput. The continued development of ever more complex composite geometries will add to the inspection cost burden. IntACom is a development project with the aim of reducing the time taken for inspection of complex geometry composite components by a factor of four. It will do this by addressing three areas: (1) Automation of current manual inspection; (2) Enhancement of existing semi-automated systems through the use of multiple transducers and Ultrasonic phased array technology (PAUT); (3) Software enhancement through the use of techniques such as assisted defect recognition and scan display management. The heart of the system is an inspection cell comprising two 6-axis robotic arms each capable of working independently and cooperatively. The arms deploy end effectors carrying ultrasonic transducers coupled to state of the art Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) or full matrix capture (FMC) acquisition systems. A single operator interface will control all aspects from initial loading of part data, through scanning of the part to data analysis. Currently about three quarters complete, this paper will give an overview of the progress to date and the planned outcomes.