QMT Features: November 2010
Laser projectors speed Airbus A350
Carbon fibre challenge - up to 220 laser projectors will ensure efficient production for the new Airbus A350 XWB


Airbus commissioned LAP, the German specialists in laser-based measuring and projection technology to provide 220 laser projection systems. LAP  will  now become a strategic partner of EADS / Airbus.

Airbus will use the laser projectors in the manufacture of carbon fibre components for wings, fuselage and tail units of the new Airbus A350 XWB to further optimize the efficiency of production.

Carbon-reinforced plastics play a key role in the design of the new A350 XWB as they will, for the first time be also used as fuselage material. Their low weight will have a very positive effect on fuel consumption.

During build-up of the carbon fibre components, the LAP systems indicate by laser beams where each individual carbon fibre layer has to go. The components no longer need to be aligned by means of difficult-to-handle templates and complicated measurements. The laser projectors are also used to check the position of the layers during the assembly process. This ensures that any errors in the manufacturing process are precluded at a very early stage.

The projectors guide the operators step by step through the complete process of component build-up. Like an “Electronic Plybook”, the software displays working steps such as positioning of carbon fibre plies. It also ensures the exact marking of other part locations are in the correct order. All elements are placed in the right position at the right time, complete with verification and documentation.

Technical overview
Laser projection systems generate points, lines, crosses or any other contours true to scale from CAD data. The easily visible red or green laser lines are used to position and align products or components.  The contours are projected onto the surface by means of a laser beam deflected by two rotary, electrically actuated mirrors (galvanometers). This takes place at such a high speed that the human eye sees a continuous line.

The to-be-projected contour is transmitted to the system as CAD data. From these data a digital signal processor generates the control signals to be used by the galvanometers.

To achieve precise 1 : 1 projection, use is made of reference points (targets) on the work surface. These targets are scanned by the system. As the positions of the targets are known, the software can use these data for computing the exact position of the projection surface relative to the projector.

Automated functions calibrate the projector quickly and precisely during daily routines. They prevent the occurrence of operating errors and enable highest precision and consistent reproducibility. 

As already described, an important field of application is in the manufacture of high-tech carbon fibre components for the aviation and automotive industries. Eight projectors have been shipped already this year to the Aerolia plant in Meaulte, France. Over the next three years, Airbus will install a total of 220 laser projectors at production facilities in Germany, Spain and France.

However, laser projection systems are also commonly applied in other sectors, for example, in the wood processing, textiles and tire industries as well as in the pre-cast industry and in the manufacture of rotors for wind power plant. l
email: info@lap-laser.com
www.lap-laser.com
  
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Rob Tremain Photographer
www.4exposure.co.uk
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