Flexible CNC Tooling Fixture

Abstract PDF: 

The Boeing Company is a leading manufacturer in the aerospace industry. In order to remain competitive they are working to reduce costs and improve manufacturing reliability and speed. In order to improve their manufacturing process, The Boeing Company requested a design for a flexible CNC tooling fixture that would accommodate a wide variety of their composite structural ribs for the 787 and 777 vertical and horizontal tail structures.

Our solution to the problem was to design a fixture that would raise and lower an array of vacuum plates to accommodate the wide va-riety of shapes and sizes present in the carbon fiber composite ribs. The variety of vacuum plates provide the suction forces necessary to secure the ribs during th epost-layup drilling and modifications performed on said ribs. The various layers of the "Onion"also allow for the tool head to have access to all ribs without being encumbered by needing to attempt to avoid any stationary objects. By controlling the fixture with a PLC, we are also able to relegate movement of the plates to simple button pushing, which in turn increases the overall safety of the changeover procedure.

The “Onion” modular CNC fixture is able to accommodate all of the current carbon fiber empennage ribs in production by The Boeing Company. It saves a large amount of time in the manufacturing process, and in the long run, ends up cutting manufacturing and labor costs. The “Onion” fixture also cuts down considerably on storage space. The reduced worker to fixture interaction improves the overall safety of the procedure and is an added benefit.

School Year (term): 
Team Name: 
Rib Tooling Solutions
Eric McKell
Team Members: 
William Houghton, Drew Taylor, Landon Wilson, Jesse Wynn, Taylor Zimmerman

Brigham Young University - Provo | Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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