Composite repairs cannot be fully checked for quality via visual inspection like conventional repairs. I often wondered how they plan to handle this problem. And well, of course, let a robot do it - they are consistant and have no bad days.
William, I assume that this technology relies on very precise control of the laser to work. There must be some new advances in laser focus or control to make it possible. It is, becuase of the results you mention, not an obvious choice, but someone has figured out how to make it work (werk?).
Wow! Thanks for this, Ann. It's often the obvious solutions that are the most frustrating. The use of dirty, violent abrasive cutting techniques on composites is such an obvious no-no when it comes to disturbing the fiber alignment and potential of layer separation in non-damaged portions of the material. I'm guessing previous attempts to cut fiber/resin composites with a high-power laser resulted in either a puddle of goo or a fire. Kudos to Lasertechnik for developing an appropriate combination of laser power, frequency, modulation, and beam profile for use with composites. This will have wide applications.
Rob, keeping planes in service longer is certainly one of the benefits hoped for from this new technology. The primary benefits, though, are getting them back into service faster, lower cost, more consistent repairs, and techniques that don't shorten a plane's service life by damaging composites during repair (the lack of force or vibration applied to the structure).
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