The legacy process for wet installing Blind Fasteners on Aircraft is a complex and labor-intensive operation that requires operators to manually prepare the surface prior to installation. Proper fastener surface preparation is critical to the performance of sealants applied during installation and is a repetitive task that increases aircraft manufacturing times. The Automated Blind Fastener Program was funded by the Office of Naval Research, developed in conjunction with Advanced Technology International, and executed by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics to demonstrate the various methods of automating surface preparation processes prior to installation to reduce touch labor and increase preparation repeatability. Additionally, an automated blind fastener preparation solution enables future technology insertion for automated blind fastener installation which supports production “Just in Time” initiatives to autonomously clean, kit, and deliver fasteners to build stations throughout the factory.
This presentation will describe how contact and non-contact cleaning methodologies were evaluated and down-selected for automation in production. An in-depth look will be discussed at how the testing results were evaluated using quantitative data such as pushout and torque testing and qualitative data to examine sample failure modes. The final engineering recommendation will be described and a path forward for how Lockheed Martin Aeronautics will pursue automated blind fastener preparation and kitting.