Original Date: 10/20/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Laser Alignment of Composite Ply Layup
Northrop Grumman has purchased and installed a Laser Guided Ply Locating system for composite part manufacturing. Made by General Scanning, Inc., Laser Systems Division, this system uses lasers to project the outline of the individual plies and the cut-outs directly onto a hard-tooling locator tool.
Traditional methods for locating composite plies use a mylar-locating template or a hard-tooling locator. Mylar is difficult to use because the mechanic must work underneath the mylar which makes it more difficult to detect foreign material. Hard-tooling locators are expensive and cumbersome. To locate plies, multiple hard-tooling locators are frequently required to accommodate all of the plies. The mechanic must scale off a known ply to determine the location of an unmarked ply. The Laser Guided Ply Locating system eliminates these types of locators.
Northrop Grumman’s Laser Guided Ply Locating system consists of eight overhead-mounted, Class 3A, laser projectors; four computer-controlled, factory workstations; and four layout tables. Each projector pair has a work area of 10 x 15 feet. The projectors can be used independently or concurrently to display different parts or portions of a very large composite ply for a total work area of 10 x 16 feet per cell. The system can be programmed off-line or directly from the engineering drawing database.
Northrop Grumman’s goal is to eliminate all mylar and hard-tooling ply locator tools, and use the system exclusively for composite ply layups. The total cost to implement this system will be recovered within two years through operational savings.
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