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5 Phase I Selections from the 09.1 Solicitation

(In Topic Number Order)
Recognition Robotics Inc.
4650 East Lake Rd.
Sheffield Lake, OH 44054
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(440) 590-0499
Simon Melikian
AF 09C-001      Awarded: 3/26/2009
Title:Affordable Accurate Robot Guidance (AARG)
Abstract:The application of robotics in automotive manufacturing have established high levels of productivity and quality but these gains have not penetrated the aerospace industry due to the positional accuracy requirements and the fact that robots are not accurate. It is important then, to develop affordable and accurate guidance as well as cost efficient robot enhancements to create robotic systems capable of aerospace tolerances. The Recognition Robotics and Comau approach uses vision components with high MRAs, standard robot options and representative testing to create the most affordable and near- at-hand project direction for the AARG target applications.BENEFIT:Increase the use of standard industrial robots in aerospace industry by creating tools that allows these robots to meet the aerospace accuracies.

Variation Reduction Solutions Inc
46999 Five Mile Road
Plymouth, MI 48170
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(248) 245-0006
Brett Bordyn
AF 09C-001      Awarded: 3/25/2009
Title:Affordable Accurate Robot Guidance (AARG)
Abstract:The field of high-precision manufacturing, especially in the aerospace industry, has traditionally required either manual processes or the use of monolithic Cartesian NC-type machines. There are many justifications for the desire to use articulated arm robots to perform these tasks. While recent advances in robot design and self-compensating tool end effectors have mitigated the issue of robot stiffness under load, the accuracy of even enhanced robots typically precludes processes with positional tolerances of better than TP 0.040" - using external metrology to guide the robot more accurately continues to be the most cost-effective avenue to achieving significantly tighter production tolerances. Current metrology systems capable of guiding a robot and holding accuracies of better than TP 0.010" over a typical work cell volume are few. None possesses the requisite speed, accuracy, and cost to warrant their use in most high-precision aerospace applications. The aim of this effort is to demonstrate TRL4 capability of an affordable, accurate, quick, deployable, and modular (distributable) external metrology system that is able to guide multiple articulated arm robots operating in non-confined spaces to a tolerance of TP 0.010". The proposed system is laser-based, and entails a network of beacons and active targets. BENEFIT:In general, the insertion of articulated arm robots into current manual or expensive NC machine tool applications requiring high positional tolerances has many obvious benefits, such as span time reduction; unit recurring flyway (URF) cost reduction; reduced production cell footprint and associated facilities costs; flexibility of system implementation; elimination of ergonomic issues; et al. A metrology system that enables robots to achieve these accuracies could also allow for palletized systems of robots, capable of docking in different work stations, grabbing different end effector tools, and performing different tasks. The metrology system would allow for the coordinate system of the palletized robot to be related to the coordinate system of the tooling/part of the station in which it docks. Particularly with respect to aerospace assembly, this would decrease idle time of equipment dedicated to a single process and station. Specific to this solicitation, which may address the production needs of Lockheed Martin Aerospace''s Right- and Left-Hand F-35 Upper Wingbox stations (J461/2 -7 autodrill), the resulting production solution will reduce span time, overall station cost, provide 100% inspection capability of c''sink/holes, and be able to attain the tolerances necessary for Interchangeable and Replaceable panels. Even though span time reduction is not so critical here since all stations on the assembly line advance at the same time, lower cycle time would allow more margin for error if maintenance/servicing of the station is required. Compared to competing metrology systems, the proposed system will be at least as cost-effective, possess the ability to ''''see'''' the entire work volume without needing to be actuated, be at least as accurate as a laser tracker system (currently the highest accuracy, multi-axis, large scale volume metrology device), be several times quicker at generating the pose (position, orientation) of the robot''''s end

Keystone Synergistic Enterprises, Inc.
698 SW Port Saint Lucie Blvd Suite 105
Port Saint Lucie, FL 34953
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(772) 343-7544
Bryant Walker
AF 09C-002      Awarded: 4/14/2009
Title:Electron-Beam Additive Manufacturing Process Control for Titanium Alloys
Abstract:Titanium forgings are high cost and long lead time items which negatively impact aircraft manufacturing costs and cycle times. Additive manufacturing of titanium structural parts has the potential to reduce lead and cycle times, work in process, and the amount of titanium required to produce structural parts. Additionally, additive manufacturing can be used to fabricate or repair components/spares in small production runs and to produce prototypes where tooling or conventional manufacturing costs would be prohibitive. The focus of this effort will be to develop and demonstrate wire-feed electron beam additive manufacturing (eBAM) techniques and control processes to produce flight worthy titanium alloy structural aerospace components typically used in DoD aerospace production programs. Special emphasis will be given to the demonstration of the sensors and systems necessary for closed-loop control of the deposition parameters, critical to the quality of the component. Additionally, establishment of a detailed business case will be completed to show that the optimized eBAM solutions are competitive with existing titanium forging processes in terms of cost, quality, lead and cycle times, WIP, etc. BENEFITS:This proposed project will benefit military aircraft and engine systmes by developing and validating a high quality and cost effective method for electron beam additive manufacturing of titanium structural components.

Sciaky Inc
4915 W. 67th Street
Chicago, IL 60638
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(708) 594-3800
Robert Salo
AF 09C-002      Awarded: 5/12/2009
Title:Electron-Beam Additive Manufacturing Process Control for Titanium Alloys
Abstract:Electron Beam Free Form Fabrication has the potential to produce large titanium structures directly from 3D models eliminating or reducing the long lead times associated with designing, procuring, and implementing conventional forging tooling as well as reducing the amount of machining cost by producing near net shapes. Our proposal outlines an approach to demonstrate the use of this technology such that it meets or exceeds the target goal of a manufacturing readiness level of 4. This shall be demonstrated by combining our core competency in the field of CNC controlled electron beam systems and ongoing process control refinement with strategic partnerships with industry experts in the titanium aero structures community. We will be directing our efforts such that EBFFF/EBAM becomes an established process meeting both DoD and commercial aerospace requirements. Utilizing our in house EBFFF capabilities we have become an industry leader in this technology and through existing and ongoing industry relationships we are continually adding improved process controls and sensors directed at providing high quality and repeatable deposits targeting a robust processing system intended to transition into a viable supply base to support both military and commercial entities.BENEFITS:Benefits of commercializing this technology include reduced lead times and cost compared to conventional forgings. As the technology becomes accepted, incorporating the concepts of EBFFF/EBAM will allow greater flexibility for the designers, and new markets for our electron beam deposition systems. As the process is proven and accepted by Air Force and Commercial end users, existing "parts supplier" subcontractors are anticipated to rapidly add this capability growing the supply base and most likely through increasing competition the end users will see additional cost reductions.

Technology Management Company, Inc.
2500 Louisiana NE, Suite 300
Albuquerque, NM 87110
Phone:
PI:
Topic#:
(505) 412-3598
Vivek R. Dave
AF 09C-002      Awarded: 4/21/2009
Title:Electron-Beam Additive Manufacturing Process Control for Titanium Alloys
Abstract:Machining of titanium parts from wrought stock costs as much as $1000 to $1500 per pound of finished component and has material lead times up to one year. Electron beam deposition, or e-BAM, seeks to dramatically reduce these costs and lead times. However, this is not possible without IPQA in-process quality assurance that monitors and controls key process variables during deposition. Our detailed technical cost model shows that without IPQA, eBAM is at $750 per pound, with IPQA this drops to below $600, and with optimized post process operations, $300 per pound is achievable. We propose both imaging and non-imaging sensors resulting in a constant weld pool volume eBAM process. We will use a vision-based system looking through the electron beam optical column, and a non-imaging sensor that channels light from the weld pool to a photodiode array. We also utilize a real-time thermal inverse model that links local weld pool measurements to global process parameters like travel speed, wire feed, and beam power resulting in a models-based control scheme. Lastly, we have assembled all the deposition and post-deposition disciplines required to achieve optimized eBAM costs of $300 per pound in a Phase II demo.BENEFITS:By achieving an eBAM cost as low as $300 per pound, dramatic improvements will be achieved in aircraft and aeroengine prototyping, rapid product development, and even LRIP low rate initial production. Also the associated lead times for flight hardware will drop from over one year to less than three months for new designs. The takt time for parts less than 40lbs total deposit weight (the part itself could be considerably heavier on account of large plate stock onto which deposits are made) using the optimized eBAM process described in this proposal is approximately 6-7 hours, which means it is possible to get one part per day, or an LRIP production rate for a single eBAM work cell without any redundant process equipment of 20 parts per month ( 40 per month if two shift operation) assuming a 5-day per week, 8- hour per day shift. The logistical implications for both OEM and spare parts are tremendously favourable. It is anticipated that such tremendous cost, lead time and productivity benefits will also accrue to other titanium parts for other defence applications as well as commercial aviation, or to any application that utilizes large, high quality titanium parts. Also, the same methodology could be adapted to steel, monel and aluminium bronze parts, thereby similarly revolutionizing the supply chain for critical naval spares.