Real-time Virtual Assembly Tooling
RVAT (Real-time Virtual Assembly Tooling) is the next-generation manufacturing capability for Aerospace Factory of the Future. RVAT provides real-time feedback to operators, and robots, for precisely positioning components in 6-DOF (6 degrees of freedom) and controlling precise operations, such as drilling, riveting, bonding and welding. This reduces the cost of tooling (design, manufacture, storage, tracking), allowing build straight from CAD. Engineers and manufacturing personnel are better connected, allowing feedback and alerts to flow back up to engineering, and design and method changes to be simply implemented. During the assembly, all operations are captured and precise location of the assembled components and operations are documented, for the as-built Digital-Twin of the vehicle, from aircraft to spacecraft. Implemented fully, this technology will have huge savings and greatly improved product quality.
The RVAT System is based on the RVAT Server and the powerful ARAMIS stereo photogrammetry technology, coupled with an image projector. The RVAT program runs all ARAMIS in a distributed way with the same shared RVAT database, providing real-time 6-DOF data for positioning of components (Click-Bonds, components, tools, drill/rivet operations, etc.), relative to the reference component (typically the fuselage or wing), and creating the Digital-Twin database with all of the manufacturing steps and information about the vehicle being built, and even through long-term maintenance.
RVAT System operates multiple ARAMIS heads to cover the desired manufacturing area in real time. RVAT database provides ARAMIS with component CAD and/or scans and stepwise instructions. RVAT projector provides the operator with real-time information and instructions. RVAT can also monitor and control manufacturing robots, and capture their assembly information. RVAT will capture the final position of each component and operation, and document them into the Digital-Twin.
A typical manual assembly application is the placement of Click-Bonds, including wire way mounts and composite studs. The Click-Bond locations are simply imported as CAD, or spreadsheet of mount locations, in true vehicle coordinates. RVAT projects the position of each Click-Bond in the series, in real-time, even if the reference component is not stable. With a Click-Bond locator tool, that slides onto the Click-Bond assembly, each Click-Bond can be tracked with 6-DOF into location with 0.1 mm (0.004 in) accuracy. Once mounted, the position of the Click-Bond is documented in the Digital-Twin of the vehicle assembly, along with management quality flags and information. This same method is used for drill point locations, drilling operations and component assemblies, all in the dynamic highly three-dimensional environments of modern manufacturing.
Typical RVAT automated operations include precision guidance and tracking of robot drilling and riveting operations, and automated tape laying and fiber placement. The robot head is tracked and guided with precision, in 6-DOF, to the precise X,Y,Z location, orientation, even with robotic gantries over large areas. Then the actual location and orientation of each drilling operation with drill depth, or composite tow layup details, is documented, and saved to the Digital-Twin. Quality documentation and flags are also provided for real-time feedback of manufacturing operations.