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3 Phase I Selections from the 08.2 Solicitation

(In Topic Number Order)
PHYSICAL SCIENCES, INC.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(925) 743-1110
David J. Cook
AF 08-001      Awarded: 09/11/08
Title:Step/Gap Meter for Composite Panel Assembly
Abstract:The goal of the proposed effort is the development of a real-time step and gap sensor to be used for the assembly of fighter aircraft. This sensor will use time domain THz technology to generate a spatial image of the gap between the panels while simultaneously determining the ground plane step mismatch through a time-of-flight type measurement. This time-of-flight measurement will also determine the coating thickness, and step measurement will be corrected for coating thickness variations. In the Phase I effort, an existing real-time wet paint thickness sensor design will be modified for step and gap measurements and the utility of the proposed technology will be demonstrated at Lockheed-Martin, thereby achieving Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 before the completion of the Phase I effort. A second goal of the Phase I effort will be further advancement of the technical and manufacturing readiness levels of the sensor. A preliminary design of the Phase II prototype will be completed, and vendors for critical OEM components and assemblies will be identified. In the Phase II effort, PSI will team with Comau, Inc., a systems integrator. Comau will integrate the sensor into the ultimate tool used in the aircraft assembly facility.

PICOMETRIX LLC
2925 Boardwalk
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(734) 864-5639
David Zimdars
AF 08-001      Awarded: 08/21/08
Title:Panel Step/Gap Mismatch Measurement
Abstract:We propose to demonstrate the feasibility of a fiber optic coupled time-domain terahertz (TD-THz) instrument to measure the substrate step/gap mismatch dimensions of aircraft panel and doors after exterior coatings have been applied. Our concept instrument will be a hand-held, panel step/gap measurement sensor, to be developed in this project, which is coupled through a light weight umbilical to our commercial off-the shelf Picometrix TD-THz instrumentation control unit. The proposed instrument will be able to measure substrate step/gap dimensions through a variety of coating and paints. The TD-THz measurement process is suitable for both composite (conductive and non-conductive) and metallic substrates. The TD-THz instrumentation system can acquire measurements at up to 100 Hz, which allow the operator to rapidly scan panels and doors. TD-THz reflection non destructive evaluation imaging is like an electromagnetic analog to a laminographic ultrasound B-scan, but with several advantages: The TD-THz measurement is non-contact, requires no special preparation of the surface, can be used to determine the dimensions of small structures, and has micron (sub mil) resolution or better.

SYSTEMS & MATERIALS RESEARCH CORP.
1300 West Koenig LaneSuite 230
Austin, TX 78756
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(512) 263-9822
Alan Bray
AF 08-001      Awarded: 09/11/08
Title:Panel Step/Gap Mismatch Measurement
Abstract:Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) proposes the development of ChekMateT, a battery-operated, hand-held, automated inspection system for measuring door/land mismatch on stealth aircraft. Based on SMRC's patented microwave NDE (MNDE) technology, and on its alpha prototype microwave and laser-based gap/step system, ChekMate will obviate the need for the expensive and time-consuming iterative (assemble-inspect-disassemble-coat-reassemble-rein spect) procedure that is the current F-35 manufacturing baseline. MNDE is extremely effective in penetrating LO coatings, including boots, to profile substrate features. SMRC's Alpha prototype, now in test at Lockheed Martin, employs a microwave transceiver to gauge distance to the coated/booted substrate, a laser displacement device to measure distance to the outer mold line (OML), and linear optical encoder to correlate microwave/laser measurements to seam position. With pre-knowledge of seam type, target recognition algorithms select appropriate peak/null features and compute gap and step. While SMRC's alpha prototype gap/step system has performed well in some seam conditions, it has proven less accurate and repeatable in others (narrow gap/high step). Phase I focuses on sensor innovations and selected Alpha lessons-learned accuracy improvements. Project goals: Improve accuracy/repeatability under all seam conditions to accuracies better than 5 mils in gap and 3 mils step over the entire F-35 range.