Delcam will demonstrate the finishing by robot of a composite wing spar test section supplied by Airbus at the MACH 2004 show.
Powerinspect demonstrates how robots could provide a more cost-effective option than conventional machine tools for the finishing of large components made from softer materials. Typically with composite components, there will be some flash from the moulding operation that needs to be removed before assembly into the aircraft structure.
The first stage in the process is to probe the part with a Krypton’s metrology system fitted with Delcam’s PowerINSPECT and PowerSHAPE software to reverse engineer the component as manufactured. The material to be removed can be identified by comparing the resulting model with the required shape as defined in the master CAD design. If the part has been defined with another CAD system, the design can be taken into PowerSHAPE via Delcam’s PS-Exchange data translation system.
The trimming toolpaths can then be created within Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software to develop the robot paths completely “off-line”. The KUKA robot undertakes the trimming of the spar section, with on-line compensation using a Krypton camera to compensate for variances between the nominal CAD world and reality.
Finally, the Krypton probe is used again with PowerINSPECT to confirm that the trimming operation has removed the correct amount of material to leave a component that conforms exactly to its CAD model.
Delcam has also been honoured in the innovation section of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the development of its PowerINSPECT software.
“We spend over 50 per cent of our budget on research and innovation and have over 100 people working on it so this is good recognition of our efforts,” said Peter Dickin, Delcam’s marketing manager.
PowerINSPECT software drives automated inspection systems and is used to examine prototypes, tooling and production samples. By giving companies real time results, problems can be identified earlier and corrected at potentially lower cost.
The software is widely accessible and works with a range of inspection devices, including static coordinate measuring machines, portable inspection arms and optical and laser-based systems. Traditionally, inspection was based on comparison of samples against drawings but with PowerINSPECT, reports can be produced using pictorial, graphical and tabulated data, either to recognised international standards or in a customer specified format.
“We had record sales last year and have continued to grow for the last five years. The Queen’s Award is a great boost and has been a good start to the year. We are obviously very pleased,” said Mr Dickin.
This latest recognition is the second award for the medium-sized company’s innovative development after it received last year’s Queen’s Award for its ArtCAM engraving and routing software.
Among the leading companies using PowerINSPECT are Ford, General Motors, Caterpillar and GKN-Westland Helicopters.
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