Integrated aviation

manufacturing solutions

TECHNOLOGIES

Production Management

In addition to the development of manufacturing technologies Aerosud has also recognised the need to apply and develop technologies in it's production management system.

Over the past few years we have developed in-house a unique production scheduling and tracking software tool based on Theory of Constraints (TOC) principles. This tool provides a comprehensive bar-coded tracking capability with a real time and accurate status reporting functionality. The tool prioritises, tracks and reports on the production status of more than 100 000 parts at any given time, both internally to Aerosud as well as externally to its manufacturing sub-tier suppliers. Furthermore, Aerosud has integrated this tool with it's ERP system tool (SYSPRO) and PLM system tool (DS ENOVIA SMARTEAM).

CFRTP Manufacture

Aerosud introduced continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastics (CFRTP) production during the industrialisation of our AIRBUS A400M work packages.

Today this capability includes an in-house designed and developed CFRTP press system with 600 ton capacity and the ability to manufacture parts up to 1.0m x 2.0m as well as parts with a 300mm depth. This system icludes as accurate infra-red heating oven as well as a motorised tool loading system with a tool pre-heating station. Current production materials processed on this press include Glass-PPS consolidated sheets. With this CFRTP press, Aerosud has a capability currently unmatched in the international aerospace sector.

Additional CFRTP production includes the use of Carbon-PEEK material for the manufacture of fuselage frame clips on the AIRBUS A350 program. These parts are processed via another Aerosud designed and developed press system with 80 ton capacity and maximum part dimension of 700mm x 400mm. This system makes use of fully automated process cycle including tool location, loading and pre-heating. This press is qualified for both PEEK and PPS materials.

Today Aerosud is considered to be one of the world leaders in the production of CFRTP parts.

Largest CFRTP press system in
the world with 600 ton capacity

Machining of Titanium

Aerosud, together with several universities, and co-funded by the Department for Science and Technology (DST), has for the past 5 years been involved in industrial research to understand the fundamental drivers involved in efficient titanium resource chains. The project focus from an Aerosud perspective is on machining of grade-5 titanium.

Machining tests and subsequent surface integrity testing based on different machining strategies for various demonstrator parts have been conducted. These results were then used to link the machining strategies to the corresponding tool wear and surface integrity of the component being machined. The next phase of the project will include machining trials of flying components.

Additive Manufacturing

Aerosud Innovation & Technology Centre (Aerosud ITC) has for some years now been involved in the building of the world's largest and fastest Additive Manufacturing (AM) system that can print Titanium parts from powder. The project, named Aeroswift, is a collaborative project between Aerosud ITC and the CSIR National Laser Centre and is being funded by the Department of Science and Technology.

The objective of Aeroswift is to design and construct a high speed, large area, laser-based additive manufacturing platform. The system is unique in the world and will shift the boundaries of additive manufacturing technology to include large components and to build at high forming speeds. The technology will enable the manufacturing of large titanium aerospace parts directly from powder.

The Aeroswift technology, developed over the last number of years, started producing its first test parts in 2016. The technology is delivering on expectations of producing high quality material at improved production rates. The first titanium parts produced on the Aeroswift machine will undergo flight testing in 2017 on the South African developed aircraft, AHRLAC www.ahrlac.com.

Aerosud Aviation is actively involved in this exciting new technology and has been working at establishing the capability to design for additive manufacturing. The process under development is defined by a design cycle process which incorporates 6 key tasks:

  • CAD
  • Optimization
  • Internal features and Surfacing
  • Manufacturability review 
  • Convert back to solid
  • Finite Element Modeling 

The process was benchmarked against a technology demonstrator project, the CFRTP rudder, where two hinge fittings were designed and manufactured by additive manufacturing in titanium. The project yielded two fittings that were designed by the AM process. Key features of the Aerosud AM design capabilities are:

  • Part count reduction: multi part assemblies reducing to single parts
  • Structural optimization and validation
  • Prismatic design concepts: Optimized weight to ratio components that are post machined to desired tolerance and finishing with minimal material wastage.
  • Biomimetic design concepts: mimics natural occurring structural aspects, efficient strength to weight ratios are attained.
  • Manufacturability validation on both printability and machinability validation of the design concepts.
  • Conversion of the engineering data back to solid geometry capability
  • Volumetrically optimized design conceptualization
  • Original design optimisation conceptualization