Ingersoll: NCDMM Selects Ingersoll Machine Tools as Its Partner


May 16 2013

On-tool inspection for the automated material placement project

 

Blairsville, Pa. — May 16, 2013.

The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) is proud to announce that after a competitive solicitation process it has selected Ingersoll Machine Tools, Inc., based in Rockford, Ill., as its partner for a Defense Wide Manufacturing Science and Technology (DMS&T) project managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Recently, NCDMM was awarded the effort to oversee the development of a system to automate an inspection method to detect defects in components for aircrafts produced by automated fiber placement (AFP).

NCDMM extended invitations to a select group of existing suppliers to participate in a competitive process to partner with NCDMM in this effort. NCDMM chose Ingersoll Machine Tools as its partner.

"In reviewing the submitted proposals, Ingersoll Machine Tools detailed the most suitable approach and they possess the required resources, the management expertise, and an enormous amount of AFP experience to achieve all the project requirements," said Ralph Resnick, NCDMM President and Executive Director. "By partnering with Ingersoll Machine Tools and working in conjunction with the DMS&T Program and AFRL, I am confident that we will successfully develop an automated inspection system capable of supporting and improving high-speed AFP operations."

In learning that NCDMM had selected Ingersoll Machine Tools as its partner, Dr. Tino Oldani, President and CEO of Ingersoll, released the following statement:

"Ingersoll Machine Tools is honored to have been selected by NCDMM for the on-tool inspection for the automated material placement project," said Dr. Oldani. "Ingersoll has vast experience working with software and hardware for AFP and related systems for automated composite layup, such as a pre-deposition inspection system for slit tape and tow. NCDMM’s expertise and ability to foster better and more cost-effective manufacturing processes will help make this project a success. The Air Force has done an excellent job of identifying critical processes in need of attention and improvement in the composites manufacturing industry. This project will certainly be a challenge, but the assembled team from the DoD, NCDMM, and Ingersoll will work together to make this project successful."

Fiber placement is a repeatable, cost-effective composite structure fabrication method that is widely used for both military and commercial aerospace programs using high-speed, AFP machines.

The materials typically used in AFP are strips of composite material impregnated with a resin commonly referred to as tows. During AFP, groups of tows are deposited onto a tool by an AFP machine to form a composite structure.

While AFP machines are designed and programmed for proper placement of the tows during fabrication, potential problems inherent to composite production can occur, requiring the fibers to be thoroughly inspected against a stringent set of criteria.

Under current inspection practices, production must be interrupted after each ply. Personnel visually inspect and manually perform measurements, identifying such defects as missing or twisted tows; gaps between tows; inaccurately placed tows; bridging, wrinkles, or splices; and foreign objects and debris. Inspectors must also document and track all defects.

"Automated inspection of composite structures laid up using AFP has the potential to be a game changer for the industry," said Jim Fisher, NCDMM Director of Operations. "Manual inspection is extremely time consuming, laborious, and visually tedious as defects are difficult to discern. The development of an automated inspection system would result in significant production gains and reduce production costs."

With an automated system, inspections would occur in real-time while the composite structure is being fabricated, alerting the operator and allowing defects and anomalies to be detected and repaired during the fabrication process. The developed system will also include an electronic database system to electronically document and track defects.

The fully developed and tested automated inspection system is expected to be completed in the next 10 months.

About NCDMM

The NCDMM delivers optimized manufacturing solutions that enhance the quality, affordability, maintainability, and rapid deployment of existing and yet-to-be developed defense systems. This is accomplished through collaboration with government, industry, and academic organizations to promote the implementation of best practices to key stakeholders through the development and delivery of disciplined training, advanced technologies, and methodologies. For additional information, visit the NCDMM at http://www.ncdmm.org/.

About Ingersoll Machine Tools

Ingersoll is a global leader in the development of advanced machine tools for the world’s aerospace, transportation, energy, and other heavy industries. Products range from general purpose machines that bring greater flexibility and productivity to a wide variety of parts, to special purpose, one-of-a-kind machines delivering unique solutions. For the aerospace industry, Ingersoll excels in building machines to produce component parts and large structures made of aluminum, hard metals, and composite materials. In addition, Ingersoll provides a unique contract manufacturing resource for prototype machining and production runs, from small engine parts to locomotive diesel blocks and windmill hubs. For more than a century, Ingersoll has led in the continuous improvement of machines and processes that enable customers around the world to meet the challenge for more efficient production, higher quality and greater competitive advantage. For more information about Ingersoll Machine Tools, visit http://www.ingersoll.com/.