Interesting, Al, that aerospace is adopting robots. In some ways it seems late, in other ways, it's surprising the industry is using robots at all. It will be interesting to see whether aerospace also adopts inspection robotics the way that automotive did.
I hope this is a trend that catches on more. Robotic precision and repeatability is key to safety. That is, as long as they don't repeat mistakes.
A friend of mine's father hand crafts small airplanes as a side job. Although that might be a hip or cool to some, I think I would rather fly in a vehicle produced mostly by machines. No offense, but everyone overlooks a problem in a design at some point.
I disagree. Handcrafting is now a thing of the past, but European handmade shoes, leather goods and suits are still considered high-class, as were handmade Swiss watches when I was a kid. Much depends on infrastructure and collective corporate knowledge being passed down, such as in the old apprentice programs, or within a company when people stayed at one job most of their lives. If the person doing all the work is a perfectionist and very, very good at what he does, I'd rather fly in his plane than one made by a huge aircraft OEM with, apparently, massive QA problems that cause exploding batteries.
Nice link, Ann. Do you know if the auto makers are also using robotics for composits? Actually, it would probably be the auto suppliers using it -- if it's geting used at all. It may be too expensive a process for auto.
Rob, automakers aren't really using composites yet. There are several R&D partnerships going on to help this move forward, as we've covered here (and see links at the end of the latest article) http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=261323 http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=249597 but no real results yet.
Ann, I wasn't aware the auto industry isn't using composites yet. I've seen so many articles talking about composits in auto, and I've seen presentations on the use of CAE to analyze composites for use in auto, so I asumed it was already happening. Apparently not.
Ann, I would guess it's just a matter of time before the auto industry begins to use composites. At a Siemens conference I attended last year, a company that conducts simulation was doing a ton of work for unnamed automotive companies on composites for auto bodies. So it seems the auto industry is looking closely at composites.
Rob, I agree with your comments. I'm sure that there have been plenty of robots used in aerospace mfg but there are significant opportunities moving ahead. The size of the work cells definitely favors more manual labor than other industries but automation offers advantages as well.