The CLC process harnesses the vast capabilities of both Nikon Metrology’s Laser Radar technology and MSI’s TruPLY Compensation (TPC™). The process was developed specifically for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to test and correct the thickness of cured composite wing skins. The CLC process is not limited to Aerostructures. Wind turbine blades, super yachts and automobiles are all beginning to incorporate composite materials into their construction and could use the CLC process to achieve the same savings and quality.
By combining Laser Radar and TPC™ technologies, Lockheed Martin set up an automated production process that is designed to produce parts of predictable quality, while rigorously reducing scrap and maintaining accuracy, scalability and ease of use.
The synergy between Magestic Systems’ TPC™ and Nikon Metrology’s Laser Radar offered Lockheed Martin a seamless solution to control critical thickness zones of the cured laminate composites used in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – utilizing metrology, automatic ply nesting and laser projection technologies to produce composite parts within engineering thickness tolerances.
Within a range of 60m, the contactless Laser Radar system from Nikon Metrology captures the surface geometry of composite parts of any shape and size, without requiring SMR or other targets.
Magestic Systems developed TruPLY Compensation™ (TPC) to compare the “as-built” data collected by Nikon Metrology’s Laser Radar with known “as-designed” data taken from the composite design files. The TPC™ process then determines where the part is structurally deficient and by how much. TPC™ then automatically generates the appropriate number of compensation plies required to build a wing skin meeting engineering tolerances. These plies are then automatically nested and the NC program is generated for the ply cutting machine with MSI’s TruNEST™ application. In addition, MSI’s TruLASER™ View automatically creates laser projection files so a 3D laser projector can indicate the correct location for each ply as it is installed on the wing skin. The part is then ready to be re-cured to obtain final geometry. The finished composite part is then measured again with Nikon Metrology’s Laser Radar for geometry quality.
The CLC process offers many benefits. Lockheed Martin can accurately satisfy the difficult engineering specifications for composite parts while achieving an efficient manufacturing process that minimizes waste and increases throughput.
The value created by this process is in immediate material savings, reduced aircraft weight and increased production throughput.
By producing composite parts correctly the first time, immediate savings can be made through minimizing waste and maximizing accuracy, part quality, and process efficiency.