Keeping data flowing for Internet of Things (IoT) management requires robust batteries that can withstand harsh aerospace environments.

Throughout the past few years, there have been several advances in smart manufacturing, smart cities, and automotive all becoming more connected as we move further into the digital age. Aerospace can now be added to that list with airlines investing in connected hardware and services.

According to the Honeywell Connected Aircraft Report, the aviation industry will be investing heavily in connected technology during the next few years to reap the cost and efficiency benefits from sensing, collecting, and analyzing real-time data collected by numerous sensors.

The report also found that the main challenge faced by the industry was maintenance, where problems frequently cause costly delays and downtime. By embracing connected technologies, the aviation industry will benefit from predictive maintenance, enabling it to use real-time data to improve passenger experience and increase cost efficiency.

Predictive maintenance uses historical and real-time data to analyze and predict when failure might happen, rather than wait until something goes wrong. It is proactive rather than reactive, so repairs can be made before problems arise. To access the data, smart sensors need to be strategically placed on equipment and machinery – the engine, wings, and landing gear for example. The data are analyzed to check the systems are working correctly and highlight any potential failures and maintenance issues.

Used correctly, this data will enable airlines to carry out predictive maintenance by repairing any potential issues before they happen, schedule service, and highlight any trends that may cause future issues. Performing repairs and maintenance at the right time will save the aviation industry billions of dollars and also improve customer satisfaction levels by reducing delays and downtime.

However, for all the opportunities, aviation has its own challenges when taking on connected technologies, and these need to be overcome to gain the full benefits.

Airlines can only use the data provided by the smart sensors if the sensors are working effectively. They must be powered efficiently and cost effectively without causing problems for the aircraft. The dramatic increase in sensors cannot result in a dramatic increase in cabling linked to the power source. Additional sensors add too much weight to the aircraft, and some will be in places that are difficult to access with cabling.

As a result, there is a move toward battery power to remove the need for heavy cabling while keeping the sensors powered to do their job effectively. If the devices that predict failure go down, there is no benefit in having them. A smart, connected industry soon becomes unsmart when data-collecting sensors fail as batteries run dry.

Traditionally, battery technology included polymer or liquid electrolytes that could not work under the high temperatures and vibrations common in aircraft or aero engines, resulting in potentially dangerous leakages. Batteries capable of operating at higher temperatures were often too large and cumbersome to be used in small, hard-to-reach locations, a problem worsened by the fact that they weren’t rechargeable. In addition to labor costs and safety issues in changing the batteries, there was also a negative environmental impact from constantly disposing of batteries once their power had been depleted.

Advances have been made in battery technology to address the power needs of emergent technologies, with solid-state batteries. Lacking traditional polymer or liquid electrolytes, solid-state batteries instead use solid components with greater tolerance to temperatures as high as 150°C and as low as -40°C. The ability to support these temperatures, in conjunction with the lack of liquid and polymer electrolytes, make solid-state batteries leakage-free, improving safety.

With solid-state batteries, airlines can install them onto equipment and machinery knowing they can safely tolerate the high temperatures found in aviation. The long battery life offers large cost savings as thousands of sensors can be powered in a fit-and-forget model. The need to frequently replace or recharge the batteries is removed, resulting in savings in labor costs and lower safety issues when changing them in hostile locations.

Once the aviation industry has implemented a connected technologies strategy using solid-state batteries to power Internet of Things (IoT) devices, it can fully embrace a predictive maintenance program. Moving from a reactive to a proactive maintenance plan using IoT reduces downtime, cuts costs, and eliminates expensive delays, benefitting the aviation industry and improving customer satisfaction.

Ilika’s Stereax family of solid-state, rechargeable, thin-film batteries don’t contain liquid or polymer components and are lithium-free, making them moisture resistant. Low self-discharge capabilities allow trickle-charging by an energy harvesting source such as vibration or a photovoltaic panel. High peak current enables data transmission using protocols such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

About the author: Denis Pasero joined Ilika Technologies in 2008, as a scientist specializing in battery technology, to manage commercial lithium ion projects. He became part of the Ilika team to apply his strong academic knowledge to commercial applications and saw the potential to be part of the development and success story of an enterprising smaller company with exciting technology and novel product ideas. Today, as Product Commercialization Manager, Pasero interfaces between customers and technical teams. For further information phone: 0044+2380.111.400 or email denis.pasero@ilika.com.

Aircraft Tooling uses Universal Robots for metal powder and plasma spraying in high-temperature environments.

t simply looked too clean,” Juan Puente thought when he saw Universal Robots (UR)’s collaborative robot (cobot).

The thermal spray supervisor at Aircraft Tooling Inc. (ATI) in Dallas, Texas, needed a rugged system – something tough enough to handle the dust and heat of high velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) and plasma spray to coat aviation parts. He didn’t think the delicate-looking UR systems could outperform traditional industrial robots.

However, he needed an option that the traditional systems could provide as ATI sought to automate aviation repair tasks.

“The cost [of a traditional robot] was outrageous. The cast iron models we looked at were too bulky; we could not easily move them between cells; they were hard to program; and all required safety guarding, which would not work in our small spray cells,” says the supervisor, who stumbled upon UR in a YouTube video.

“The UR10 robot had the required reach for the spray distance and the cost was about half of everything else we looked at. It was very user-friendly and portable. Because of its collaborative safety features we did not need to fence it in,” Puente explains. UR robots are classified as cobots due to their built-in safety system that makes the robot arm automatically stop operating if it encounters objects or people within its route.

Though Puente readily admits that the UR10 “won their hearts,” there was significant hesitation at ATI as to whether the robot would operate reliably in the spray booth’s hot and dusty environment.

“We were very surprised. I actually thought the robot wouldn’t stand it. Some of these powder coatings are tungsten carbide which is a hard metal coating. If it seeps into the bearings of the robot, we were afraid it would destroy them,” he explains. ATI opened the seals on the UR10 and found the bearings intact.

“There were no particles in there, three years of operation, it doesn’t show,” says Puente, adding that recoil from the spray gun was another concern. “We were nervous that the recoil would trip the robot or interfere with the servo capabilities. We went as high as the pressures would take to make it bounce, and it wouldn’t do it. The robot simply stayed in position.”

Nick Armenta, automation engineer with Olympus Controls, the UR robot distributor working with ATI, explains that the company’s experience with the robot’s durability is common. “We often see the robots operate in harsh environments, taking over jobs that humans don’t want to perform,” Armenta says. “Many think of cobots as being fragile but the opposite is true, this is an extremely durable robot; it’s sealed against dust, rated for high temperatures, and works just as well in extreme environments as in a cleanroom.”

“All we do is dust the robot arm off and keep on going,” Puente says, adding that he did not have to pay for a licensing or service agreement. “That was really unusual compared to other solutions we looked at. With the UR robot, everything was included in the purchase price.”

“We do have to make them occasionally, and that is something we provide free of charge. If there is any kind of issue with the robot and it’s under warranty, we can get a part the next day, if we don’t have it in stock,” he says, recalling how his company has been able to get customers’ robots up and running again the same day by exchanging joints in the robot arms.

Aircraft Tooling Inc. (ATI) became a FAA-approved repair station in 1970 with the development of hard chrome plating and plasma spray repairs for aircraft landing gear, airframe, and engine components. The company was involved with a plasma spray coating that flew on the first space shuttle. ATI has grown from a component-only repair station to include overhaul of complete landing gear and engine-mount assemblies and accessories, restoring high-cost parts to new standard dimensions for extended life.

The UR10 robot ATI chose is the largest of the three collaborative robot models – UR3, UR5, and UR10 – Universal Robots offers. The cobots are named after their payload in kilos and span in reach from 19.7" to 51.2".

“We chose the UR10 because of its length, being able to hang it upside down, walk underneath it. Keeping the floor clear of anything was always an advantage to us,” says Puente, who now uses two UR10 robots with a third being installed. The robots’ payload and speed (39.4ips) was more than sufficient for ATI.

Most of the speed comes from turntables making sure that the coating is being applied at a certain velocity,” Puente explains.

After initial risk assessment, collaborative Universal Robots can operate alongside human operators without safety guarding. If the robots touch an employee, the built-in force control limits the forces at contact, adhering to current safety requirements for force and torque limitations.

The 6-axis robot arms weigh as little as 40 lb with reach capabilities of up to 51". Repeatability of ±0.004" allows quick precision handling of small parts.

The company, part of Teradyne Inc., is headquartered in Odense, Denmark. Its U.S. regional offices are in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Long Island, New York; Irvine, California; and Dallas, Texas.

“It was a simple, user-friendly process as opposed to other robots with a much more complex, multi-step programming interface,” says the ATI supervisor, who also received a day of free training from Olympus Controls. Programming the UR10’s spray path was done using the teach method that allows the user to grab the robot arm and move it through waypoints inserted directly on the robot’s touch screen. “We used a red laser to indicate exactly where we wanted the robot to move. Once the waypoints were set, we just hit ‘play’ and the robot moved through that trajectory,” Puente says. He looks forward to adding more complex application tasks next. “We’re looking into adding a vision camera, so we can have the robot perform quality inspection of coated parts, locating areas that need an extra coating. There are so many things we can do with these robots that we have only started to explore,” he says.

GIE Media’s Today’s Technology Center – Booth #236900 – will showcase the latest technology in the aerospace, medical, and motor vehicle industries at IMTS 2018. Visitors can get a close look at leading-edge innovations from manufacturing’s hottest markets brought to you by Aerospace Manufacturing and Design, Today’s Medical Developments, and Today’s Motor Vehicles.

ONE Aviation’s Eclipse 550 Very Light Jet boasts best-in-class performance, economics, and safety. Flying at up to 41,000ft at a max. cruise of 430mph, all while consuming only 59 gallons of fuel per hour, the Eclipse 550 is the most efficient twin-engine jet available today.

Planes are assembled using friction stir-welding, a green manufacturing process that uses a spinning tool to push two sheets of metal into each other, stirring the metals together without melting either base metal plate. ONE Aviation officials call the process faster and more rigid than heat-based welding.

The IMTS exhibit shows the aircraft’s delivery paint scheme on its left side and a revealing “X-ray view” of systems below the skin on the right. Visitors may sit in the aircraft’s cockpit and experience the cabin found on production models of this 5-passenger, twin-engine personal jet. www.oneaviation.aero

Pushing the medical industry toward growth, to support an aging population, are the latest medical tools and devices. Today’s Technical Center will display the industry’s most advanced precision instruments that underpin technology innovation in this sector. Explore the materials and tools used to optimally manufacture these medical devices and learn what elements are shifting in the medical industry to adapt to a world of connected devices. Knee, hip, and shoulder implants will be featured in addition to stents, pacemakers, defibrillators, bone screws, plates, and other durable equipment.

Returning to IMTS for its third time is GIE Media’s Miles for Manufacturing (M4M) 5K Run/Walk, taking place on Wed., Sept. 12, 2018 at 6:30 a.m. M4M, which debuted at IMTS 2014, is an excellent opportunity to get moving while benefiting manufacturing education! The recipient schools prepare young men and women for success in life-long learning and work by providing customized programs in selected career pathways based on their interests, offering programs in CNC machining, CAD, and welding, along with courses in automotive repair and computer design.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is radically reshaping two of its best-selling vehicles to meet new lightweight standards. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler updates the iconic SUV, using ultra-high-strength steel alloys for the frame and aluminum doors, rear gates, and hoods – improving fuel economy without sacrificing the Wrangler’s off-road dominance.

The 2019 Ram 1500 pickup goes down the same path – heavy use of the toughest-to-process steel on the market, coupled with some aluminum exterior components. The truck can tow and haul more while improving fuel economy. The vehicle also integrates safety systems into its design, hiding camera, Lidar, laser, and other systems, keeping sensors safe from road conditions. www.jeep.com; www.ramtrucks.com

Everyone has individual requirements for the workplace. When planning work stations and storage, Hoffmann Group equipment consultants keep the whole work environment in their sights, incorporating factors such as lighting and employee height and size.

Concentrating on work without getting tired requires a well-illuminated workplace with an optimized mix of lighting. Lighting influences biorhythms, so a balanced mix of direct and indirect light, workplace lighting, and daylight is perfect. For enough light, the ratio of translucent areas (windows, doors, and skylights) to the room surface area should be at least 1:10. Work that involves high visual requirements demands a 1:5 ratio. Using adjustable workplace lights for individual visual tasks avoids creating shadows. Light fixtures placed around the workspace according to their importance should be in reach and easily adjustable, preventing constant refocusing of workers’ eyes and keeping employees from frequently bending over.

Swiveling, perforated side walls on work benches let employees adjust the workplace tools at arm’s length, making them simple to grasp. Grip holders, tools, and visual information are always set at the same distance from the employee.

Industrial workplace tasks are often done standing. Standing aids can compensate body weight up to 60% and are recommended when employees must stay standing in the same position for more than two minutes. Anti-tiredness mats placed in front of the workspace also help improve the circulation in the legs and relieve joints. On the mats, workers must keep making leg micro-movements to counterbalance their weight. Mats also collect dirt particles, decreasing the possibility of slipping. Further, the correct flooring surface can absorb noise and keep noise emissions low.

The Hoffmann Group’s Garant ToolCar roller cabinet, the Garant Xpent vise, and a hydraulic measuring stand were recently granted the iF Design Award, given once a year by the independent iF International Forum Design GmbH, in Hannover, Germany.

The Garant GridLine ToolCar’s central, lockable side compartment has a perforated panel, to which Garant Easyfix holders and hooks for the toolholder can be attached. It is optionally available with a power supply in the side compartment and with lighting. An ergonomically shaped push handle makes it easier to move around in the workshop – even under extreme operating conditions.

The Garant Xpent vise for 5-face machining has clamping modules that can rotate through 180°, travel of more than 100mm, and a quick-change spindle.

The hydraulic Garant measuring stand is for accurate holding and positioning of dial and lever gages. Its hydraulic central clamping system resists wear, while the large, rubberized clamping handle lets all joints be fixed evenly. The magnetic base’s plastic enclosure offers a secure grip and protects the surface of sensitive workpieces.

To prevent back problems, damage to posture, or alleviate tension in the shoulders and neck, employees should be able to adjust the height of their work benches or work stations. Choosing the right working height for the employee’s body size and height is as important as the workpiece dimensions. Work benches and work stations with electronically height-adjustable work surfaces are especially comfortable. In multi-shift environments, adjustable work stations with memory functions allow employees to set the optimal working height.

Employees who need to work at different places within a factory and still need the stability of a solid work bench can work more ergonomically with the Hoffmann Group’s electrically height-adjustable work bench with electrically retractable wheels that make it mobile. The station’s battery also provides a mobile power supply for electrical tools. For employees who move around a lot during their shift, the self-propelled, battery-powered work bench with electric drive can be moved forward or backward with variable speeds up to 4km/h with only one hand on the steering grip. The entire work station can be moved with minimal effort. Vise, tools, and other heavy objects are at hand, and heavy carrying is avoided, relieving back strain.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) greatly influences employees’ well-being, safety, and productivity. Safety shoes with a suitable damping system prevent back pain by absorbing jolts to the spine. Breathable, flexible gloves for assembly work should offer protection and grip so there’s enough feeling in the hands when handling oily parts. Work clothing also must offer high flexibility, movement, and suitable design. Comfortable, good-looking clothing will be used well and often. This is also true for protective equipment, company property, and tools.

Tools should be designed from an aesthetic and ergonomic point of view. For example, screwdrivers with rounded handles can transfer power more efficiently; tools with Santoprene grips lay better in the hands and prevent premature fatigue. Good grip is especially important for wet or oily hands. Special attention should also be paid to hand-held and hand-guided electric tools as they often transmit vibrations to the hand and arm and could cause circulation problems for the fingers and hands. Low-vibration tools and technical aids for vibration reduction also provide relief.

A well-thought-out system improves efficiency by ensuring that employees can orientate themselves quickly and always have the necessary tools quickly at hand. The Japanese 5S method – sort, set in order, shine (cleanliness), standardize, and sustain – allows employees to understand the work environment at a glance. Using 5S, the storage place for a tool depends on its frequency of use. Garant perforated panels can be customized using Garant Easyfix hooks and holders to provide uncluttered storage. Tool drawers feature e-shaped foam inserts with gaps in the shape of tools, offering a quick overview of any missing tools.

CAD software and simulations can support industrial work environment planning. The Hoffmann Group also offers a virtual tour of the premises using virtual reality (VR) glasses to give customers a better feeling for the space as well as some fun. The Hoffmann Group’s GridLine holistic setup tool uses a pre-defined grid to offer clear planning in setting up modern facilities. GridLine allows many combinations and extensions, and aesthetics and functionality can be guaranteed even when changes are made to the setup in the future. Good design lets employees feel good in their work environment and work productively.

Greenerd Press & Machine Co. expert Mike Josefiak explains how controlling temperature, pressure, and cure times improves consistency in critical composite materials.

From design to manufacture, it can be challenging to achieve product consistency with aerospace composite materials. Manual processes can lead to expensive, time consuming rework machining for finished products, especially with complex, layered materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP).

However, using the correct composite production technology will reduce the variation within a single component as well as from one component to the next.

“Good process control provided by new compression molding machines improve the quality of the product and allow manufacturers to gain a deeper understanding of the process,” says Mike Josefiak, mechanical engineer with Greenerd Press & Machine Co.

Josefiak recently sat down with Aerospace Manufacturing and Design editors to discuss how compression molding can improve parts consistency as aerospace companies increasingly turn to lightweight, difficult-to-process composite materials.

MJ: Compression molding uses temperature and pressure, over time, to form, cure, and/or bond a component. The material may be a fabric impregnated with thermosetting resins, a partially cured rubber, a molding compound – bulk molding compound (BMC) or sheet molding compound (SMC), or other materials that benefit from a heating cycle under pressure.

MJ: The desire for higher strength-to-weight ratios in aerospace applications makes it a natural fit for composite materials. Compression molding creates structural components for modern aircraft interiors, replacing aluminum for weight and cost savings.

In more demanding applications, such as the CFM Int’l. LEAP engines powering the A320neo and 737 MAX, composite fan blades are made in a compression molding process. The high bypass ratios being used to reduce fuel consumption have increased blade size. These longer blades must resist bird strikes with flexibility and strength, always keeping component weight to a minimum. This requires tight process control and repeatability in the molding process.

Compression molding functions well, producing components that have less complex or fine features because many materials do not flow freely. The best applications will be thin – reducing the time needed to cure material at the core of the component, so cycle times do not become unacceptably long.

MJ: Compression molding presses are very flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of a specific component or families of components. The three keys to a successful compression molding process are managing time, temperature, and pressure. Adjusting these factors precisely to meet the chemical and physical characteristics of a product ensure consistent, successful results.

Sizes can range from a few inches to many feet wide. Size, combined with the desired pressure on the material, will determine the machine’s capacity.

Pressures on the material range from less than 100psi to more than 3,000psi. Minimizing deflection of the machine platens, and controlling parallelism will keep pressure consistent across the working area.

Modern analysis and temperature control methods can keep temperatures within a few degrees. Systems compen- sate for heat absorbed by the working material and ambient condition changes to maintain consistent ramp rates and soak temperatures.

MJ: Yes, thermoplastics and thermoset materials can be used in this process, although low viscosity fluids can be difficult to contain within a metallic die, and flashing is to be expected.

MJ: The same style of presses used for compression molding can also be used in a warm- or hot-forming application for metallic parts. While the energy and forces required for these operations generally increase, the same principles of controlled heat and pressure can improve production of metallic parts susceptible to tearing or thinning. Heating many materials to a small fraction of their melting points makes it easier for materials to flow, helping reduce the scrap rate of demanding forming work.

MJ: Compression molding presses typically use hydraulic power systems because of the low power demand required for holding a product under pressure, as well as being a cost-effective way to achieve tight force control.

Hydraulic press systems designed specifically for compression molding will take additional steps to smoothly transition pressure on the product, maintain equal force across the work area, and minimize energy consumption.

MJ: Control systems that manage temperature, time, and pressure independently throughout the cycle will give end users the tools they need to succeed. Every product is different, so the ability to test and adjust conditions consistently leads to reduced cycle times and lower scrap rates.

MJ: Temperature control of the working surface, force control, and the ability to hold pressure for long periods of time are all basic functions in compression molding presses. However, there are several options to consider. The materials being formed and the particularities of each die will play the largest role in which options can benefit a manufacturer.

Heater-zone controls can ramp up temperature at a controlled rate across the full working area. Additional cooling systems provide similar controlled temperature ramp-down. The level of control and speed of temperature change can be configured to match the needs of the materials.

Position control can be added for products with a required thickness, holding positions as close as ±0.001". On large products, this may be multiple cylinders working in concert to maintain the position, even as the material being formed pushes outward on the dies.

Vacuum chambers around the working area help remove additional gas within the product, as well as limit oxidation or contamination problems.

These are only a few of the possibilities. Greenerd Press & Machine compression molding presses are readily expandable, supporting any number of operating conditions to speed up production, reduce scrap rates, and improve the end product.

MJ: Operators can be trained on-site in basic operation in less than an hour. Basic systems typically use time, temperature, and pressure setpoints for adjustment.

Advanced presses can become more complex, using step programming with ramp rates for temperature, position, and force throughout set time periods. To get the maximum potential from these systems, it is critical to gain a deep understanding of the material being formed and how the conditions around that material benefit the process.

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