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A Concurrent Approach to Manufacturing Induced Part Distortion in Aerospace Components


It is not possible to predict part distortion in aerospace components to the required level of accuracy when considering component tolerances. COMPACT is the first initiative to propose a multidisciplinary approach to the prediction and resolution of this problem. Little work has been undertaken in certain areas, others have been ignored, being described as ‘black art’. In COMPACT, research will be conducted in the areas of material processing, manufacturing and design, so that a proof of concept can be obtained.

Project objectives

  • New knowledge will be created in traditional areas, materials, manufacturing and design. The outcomes of these elements of the project will stand on their own, as with all EU-funded work.
  • Finite Element Method technology must be used to simulate the work in each area. New knowledge will be generated to extend the applicability of this technology and achieve greater accuracy in a three-dimensional context. A methodology will be researched and developed that enables the simulations from the three different areas to be integrated. This will enable the prediction of residual stress and distortion due to its redistribution through component design.
  • Knowledge-based process engineering will be used as a novel research philosophy. Work undertaken will enable the development of a knowledge-enabled process modelling (KEPE) methodology. Subsequently, a system will be developed, which will demonstrate the re-use of the knowledge gathered from the three areas of expertise. The system will enable engineering compromises to be made in distortion management.

Description of the work

It is estimated that tens of millions of euros are spent every year in an attempt to either avoid or remedy the distortion in components. Part distortion is a function of residual stress and is caused by the complex relationships between material processing, component design and manufacture. The work programme has been developed around these three fundamental streams of research and consequently adopts a truly concurrent approach. Two further research streams will enable the bulk of research findings to be effectively applied to problem solving. Research will be used to gain a greater degree of understanding across the engineering disciplines and create a knowledge base using a process-orientated approach. Finite element modelling will be used to develop three-dimensional functionality that will enable multidisciplinary simulations to be made. The knowledge integration work will use this technology in order to assist or guide cross-functional engineering teams in the decision-making process.

Expected results

The work will eventually allow cost savings to be made in manufacturing through the minimisation of ‘scrap’, repair, concessions and the expensive re-processing of aluminium. Through looking at design in the light of residual stress, it is expected that the design work will enable engineers to optimise geometrical shapes and produce lighter components and hence lighter aircraft.