COTESA selected Airborne to supply a robotic production system to automate its edge sealing operation for complex, 3D composite parts. The Automated Edge Sealing system will ensure a constant quality during production and drastically reduce the amount of manual labour. The system uses the Automated Programming technology of Airborne, which translates the 3D part design directly into the machine instructions and process settings, on-the-fly and without the need of any robot programming.
In many aerospace programmes, it is mandatory to seal the edges of composite parts after they have been machined into the right shape. This sealing prevents moisture ingress in the edges that otherwise would be exposed to the environment. This edge sealing is in almost all cases still a manual process that leads to quality problems which result in rejected parts or repair work, and to fatigue with the workers because of the tedious, repeated motion.
One of the hurdles is that there are many different part shapes to be sealed. The 3D geometry of every part is different, there can be thickness variations in the edge, and the edges can be chamfered. Also the holes inside the part need to be sealed. This high variation in geometries leads to a large effort in programming, if traditional methods are followed. This robot programming and testing is so large that it is prohibitive to use automated edge sealing in most cases.
Airborne uses Automated Programming in all its machines, which avoids the need for human robot programming. The software takes the design and material input, and translates this via an advanced algorithm into the correct robot motions and process parameter settings. This happens on-the-fly, which makes it very easy to implement on the shopfloor.
The other important part is the accurate dispensing of the resin, to ensure that exactly the right amount of material is placed on the edge of the part. Airborne is levering its experience with automated honeycomb potting, which also involves accurate dispensing of delicate resin systems. The dispensing system can handle the variations in part shapes and ensures that the edge is sealed within the required tolerances.
COTESA, a leading manufacturer of high quality composite fiber components for aviation and automotive engineering, is pleased to work with Airborne on the implementation of such a system, said Christian Bartsch, CEO of COTESA. “This system will help COTESA to streamline operations and increase quality to better serve its customers. The edge sealing process has been a difficult process for many years, so we are happy that Airborne can help us in making it more efficient and safer.”
Airborne, a technology leader in automation and industrialisation of advanced composites, looks forward to supporting the automation of the edge sealing operation at COTESA, said Marcus Kremers, CTO of Airborne. “Edge sealing is not an easy process to automate and qualify in the aerospace industry, so we are delighted to be able to work with the COTESA team who are very knowledgeable and experienced in bringing innovations to the aerospace market. It will be a great opportunity to bring this technology to the shop floor and make it happen.”