Determinate Assembly – Aerospace
Determinate Assembly in Aerospace using Leica Laser Tracker & Spatialanalyzer

Leica Laser Tracker & SpatialAnalyzer in Aerospace Manufacturing

Determinate Assembly (DA) is a technique used in aerospace assemblies that requires drilling precise and matching hole patterns for fastening mating parts. The DA technique is critical to building large structures effectively for aerospace as it allows for consistent, accurate assembly and component alignment. Massive NC machines or large jigs are often used in order to achieve the necessary precision to drill DA hole patterns, but
these methods are both expensive and inflexible to changes in design and process. An alternate technique employs a robot on a rail using a large scale precision metrology system. This technique allows DA hole patterns to be drilled precisely in a cell capable of adjusting to changes in design and process.

The project at hand integrated a laser tracker with a robot in order to develop and solve the kinematic calibration of the robot, and integrate the laser tracker measurements as feedback controlling the position and orientation of the drill head. The purpose of the project was to evaluate whether flexible robot systems can deliver precise DA hole patterns within aerospace tolerances.

The project used the following components: a Kuka KR-500, a Leica AT901, a Leica T-Mac 6D sensor, a 30’translation rail, airframe test stands and coupons, and SpatialAnalyzer (SA) Machine for direct robot control interface, laser tracker interface, and Measurement Plans (MP) to automate the process.

SA Machine was used to integrate and establish a real-time connection with the robot and laser tracker. The SA Robot Driver interfaced to the Kuka controller to provide direct communication to read and command joint values. The solution used tracker measurements and robot joint angle values, measured as the robot moved through a series of poses in and around the DA hole patterns, and used these measurements as inputs for local calibration(s).

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