PLM software streamlines robotic cell development

FASTCURVE and FASTTIP, part of FASTSUITE from CENIT (Stuttgart, Germany), have been used successfully by Hyde Group Holdings Ltd. (Cheshire, U.K.) to optimize composite wing manufacturing.

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Two integrated product lifecycle management (PLM) software systems, FASTCURVE and FASTTIP, part of FASTSUITE from CENIT (Stuttgart, Germany), have been used successfully by Hyde Group Holdings Ltd. (Cheshire, U.K.) to optimize composite wing manufacturing. A specialist in airframe/aeroengine manufacturing using robotics, the Hyde Group was asked by the U.K.-funded Next Generation Composite Wing (NGCW) program, with Airbus (Toulouse, France) as lead partner, to produce a robotic work cell that would accurately dispense adhesives and rapidly drill fastener holes of different sizes in wings and ailerons designed using CATIA V5 from Dassault Systèmes (Vélizy-Villacoublay, France). The company worked with KUKA UK (Halesowen, West Midlands, U.K.) to develop the cell, which was equipped with a Zagar MQ 50 end effector (Zagar Inc., Cleveland, Ohio) for drilling.

Because FASTCURVE and FASTTIP are based on Dassault’s DELMIA V5 robotics software, and are fully conversant with CATIA, they enabled efficient offline programming of the robot, says Hyde Group technical director Richard Waring. Engineers were able to quickly generate smooth, collision-free tool paths for hole drilling. Thanks to integrated simulation, work-cell elements (e.g., part-positioning devices) were simultaneously developed and programmed, virtually, to ensure feasibility prior to building a cell prototype.

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Part contours were created by FASTCURVE from native CATIA V5 data, and then the dispenser paths were approximated from them, according to user settings, in linear and circular segments, says Waring. According to CENIT, software users can easily edit or delete automatically defined drilling positions and dispensing paths, as well as toolpath start and end positions, and depart and approach movements.

Hyde Group was able to optimize its robotic cell in record time, claims Waring, enabling wing manufacture for the NGCW program without having to build and test numerous prototypes, which reduced cost and risk.

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