CAV are participating in a new Innovate UK funded project to combine a high speed, accurate and stiff robot with a laser processing capability for the manufacture of high-end aerospace structures.
Laser processing has the potential to enable higher productivity manufacturing of both metallic and composite aerospace structures through the: fabrication of large metallic structures using laser additive manufacturing, preparation of material via laser processing of surfaces for improved aerodynamics and/or ice formation, and accurate cutting and drilling of panels for the purposes of assembly.
A collaboration between TWI and CAV from the UK and Prodtex, Cognibotics and Corebond from Sweden, the 15-month LaserTAU project aims to establish the ability of a processing cell to fabricate and manufacture large-scale aerospace components and assemblies by developing a new robot platform: the TAU robot.
A gantry version of this new prototype robot has already been created and successfully applied to factory application tests and now this project aims to adapt the prototype to create a system that is able to laser process work pieces with a working envelope of around 3m x 1m x1m.
LaserTAU will then be able to exploit the extreme accuracy (<10µm), high stiffness, large open workspace and reconfigurable on-site capabilities afforded by the robot to manufacture aerospace structures.
Leveraging their extensive knowlege of experience of aircraft parts and aerospace manufacturing processes, CAV will develop the requirement for the robotic system.
Working alongside TWI, they will focus on the laser processing (welding, cutting, surfacing and drilling) aspect of the project and design a welded aircraft skin structure for demonstration which will test the LaserTau robotic system for speed and accuracy. The titanium component parts for the 2m long demonstrator will be produced by CAV before final welding takes place on the LaserTau robotic system at TWI.
LaserTAU is a unique opportunity to combine leading UK and Swedish technologies, building on common interests and triggering further investment to extend the proposal and provide market-ready products.
While this product is currently being investigated for use in the aerospace industry, it is capable of processing structures/components for any sort of industry.