The fabrication of large spars and structural beams, from composite materials, can be enhanced by recent automation techniques developed by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems. This technology is based on a Patented Process called Automated Stiffener Forming (ASF), and associated Automated Stiffener Forming Machines (ASFMs). The ASF process involves a progressive roll forming technique with continuous rolls of material that have been prepared in advance at the appropriate ply orientations and widths.
This presentation will discuss the advent of this process and current applications in production today. It will also show how it is now being applied to large composite wing spars and structural beams. This new automation approach reduces the time to apply off-axis materials onto long, tight cornered parts, such as Wing Spar or Beams. It uses a stretch forming approach to avoid cuts/darts in the material, to shape to the contours associated. It allows formation of Spars and Beams, directly into a Female Tool where it can remain for final cure. This eliminates handling steps, risk and tooling costs; as compared to more traditional processes involving making the part on a male tool and transferring to a female tool for cure (to control the most critical OML dimensional features).
- Process in creating and current applications of ASF
- Benefits of ASF compared to more traditional processes