Accuracy in aerospace

Author : John Cove, Marketing Manager, Starrett

18 July 2017

During the late 19th century, the Wright brothers began experimenting with 
the concept of air travel. After years of research, observing the angle of birds’ 
wings and the engineering of bicycles and motors, they finally succeeded in 1903.

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Historically, force measurement tests were calculated using a series of mathematical equations, known as Newton’s first, second and third laws. In recent years, force testing has been limited to handheld metrology devices. While faster than lengthy calculations and more accurate than guesswork, these machines do not provide the levels of precision needed for sophisticated applications.

Designing parts and components for the aerospace industry requires extremely high levels of accuracy. In fact, you would be hard pushed to find another sector where precision is such a vital consideration. In an industry with copious regulatory requirements – and high consequences for failing to meet standards – ensuring that components are safe, fully functional and reliable could not be more important.

The AS9100 group of standards, for example, is a series of regulatory requirements specific to aerospace manufacturing. The regulations ensure that manufacturers produce compo-nents within strict quality-controlled environments, to guarantee reliability and safety of aircraft. This quality assurance is particularly important where busy production lines are expected to produce high volumes of precise, identical parts and components. 

Meeting these standards is no simple task, but to simplify quality management and improve accuracy, manufacturers are using sophisticated force measurement and metrology systems to test components they make. Starrett’s force measurement software, L2 Plus, for example, provides comprehensive analysis of measurement tests – with exact force measurement results from simple peak load measurement to more complex break determination.

By exporting measurement data via USB, or wirelessly with Bluetooth, manufacturers can access data and insight far beyond the basic figures provided by other approaches.
Inputting the requirements of a part, material or component allows the software to generate high-resolution graphs based on load, distance, height and time of measurement. In addition, historical test data is archived and available to analyse at a later date, helping speed up future tests and navigating potential problems or errors.

This intelligent software increases the accuracy of force measurement, while also improving precision for engineers designing and creating components. Design engineers are less restricted and can be more innovative with their designs. And quality control managers can rest assured that parts will meet industry standards and, as a result, are less likely to fall victim to manufacturing errors.

Despite the achievements of the Wright brothers, their historic plane did not survive long after its first day in the air: it was caught in a strong gust of wind while on the ground and damaged beyond repair. Since 1903, the aviation industry has come a long way, and with it, the ambitions of aerospace engineers have evolved too.

The next century is bound to witness even greater leaps in aerospace engineering, and the capabilities of force measurement systems will have to evolve too. Leaders in the aerospace industry need to incorporate the latest force measurement technology into their processes to ensure they don’t miss take off.

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