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A highly flexible repair procedure for structures made of fiber-reinforced composites (FRCs) is about to be introduced in the aviation industry: Lufthansa Technik AG has filed two important patent applications for its newly developed scarf joining robot, and preparations are underway to put the new system into commercial operation.
The robot demonstrator developed during the “CAIRE” research and development project successfully passed all its tests. Trials on individual components as well as on entire aircraft proved that both reproducible repairs of damages and purely adhesive-based repairs on critical structures made of fiber-reinforced composites are possible. In addition, the robot can even be used for mobile repairs.
“The patent applications relate to a positioning mechanism and a procedure for increasing processing accuracy. Thanks to the positioning mechanism, employees can precisely position the scarf joining robot anywhere on the aircraft without anyone else’s assistance – whether from the side, from above with an overhead crane or even upside down with the help of hoisting gear. The increases in accuracy go far beyond what is possible with other industrial robots,” says project manager Dr. Henrik Schmutzler.
The technology is scheduled for industrialization by fall 2018. Targeted use of the scarf joining robot not only results in cost and time savings; the new procedure also significantly increases quality, since it makes entirely new repair geometries possible.