Team Leader: Dr. Lars Larsen
How can components for the aerospace industry be assembled automatically? The Assembly and Joining Technology team develops automated solutions for this problem. The portfolio includes the development of clamping technologies, fixtures and end effectors. Additional research topics are robot process and automation technology, tolerance and variant management, and overall process control.
The focus is set on welding thermoplastic fibre composite components, which offers the possibility of changing assembly sequences, e.g. in aircraft production. Currently, in the metallic area, the systems are integrated after the structure has been assembled, as they can be damaged by the resulting metal chips. However, this sequence has the disadvantage that restricted accessibility makes assembly more difficult.
The use of welding technologies offers the possibility of changing assembly sequences, e.g. in aircraft production, as chips or dust that are not acceptable for system integration can be avoided. For this purpose, industrial solutions are being developed which enable automated welding processes. Electrical resistance and ultrasonic welding, both static and continuous, are used.
Further research areas concern riveting, gluing and shimming of components made of fibre-reinforced plastics or metal.
In the area of bonding and shimming, the automated preparation and inspection of the joining surfaces and the process-safe application for various applications are under investigation.
For all joining processes, special attention is paid to inline process monitoring, which allow predicting the quality of the joint during the process.
In addition to investigating and joining technologies, a key research area is the characterisation of the overall process. The focus in this context lies on the optimisation of assembly sequences in order to reduce effort and costs.
The area of construction is concerned with Project-related tool development, end effector design and procurement of mechanical engineering components for the realisation of automated manufacturing processes.
The ultrasonic welding process is to be used to join the helicopter door
DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
Planned structure design of a helicopter door
Automated edge sealing - Automated sealant application in a man-machine collaboration
Robot-based continuous ultrasonic welding of thermoplastic fibre-reinforced plastics (Youtube Video).
The skin was placed fully automated by pick and place and then vacuum consolidated. The stringers were joined by robot-based continuous ultrasonic welding.
End-effector for robot-based and quality-controlled resistance-welding of thermoplastic clips (Youtube Video).
Test bench for resistance welding up to 1500 mm length.
World's first demonstrator for thermoplastic A320 pressure bulkhead at the ILA in Berlin. DLR, in collaboration with Premium Aerotec, has developed the welding technology to join the individual curved segments. (Press release).
Test bench for surface activation using plasma (left) and for validation by optical inspection (right).