Offline robot programming for the polishing of aircraft engine lip skins

In 2020, McStarlite invested in automation by integrating a KUKA robot coupled with Robotmaster offline robot programming (OLP) software, to perform the lip skin polishing application. Lip skins, also known as engine nacelle leading edges, are the aerodynamic structures that make up the leading edge of an aircraft engine.

Offline robot programming for the polishing of aircraft engine lip skins

Case Study of | Robotmaster

The Client / Challenge:

McStarlite

The world’s leading producer of aircraft engine nacelle lipsticks since 1973, McStarlite, produces some of the largest and most complex sheet metal components for the aerospace industry. For decades, the polishing process has been done manually, relying on hours of a skilled operator to get the job done. However, hand polishing takes time and has a physical impact on workers. Another disadvantage of hand polishing is the inconsistency of the parts, as the surface finish is only as good as the skills of the individual worker, and the components must be reworked to meet the strict requirements of the aerospace industry. . This additional recovery and cycle time reduces the profitability of this operation.

The solution:

In 2020, McStarlite invested in automation by integrating a KUKA robot coupled with Robotmaster offline robot programming (OLP) software, to perform the lip skin polishing application. Lip skins, also known as engine nacelle leading edges, are the aerodynamic structures that make up the leading edge of an aircraft engine.

Consistency, precision and high quality finishes were key requirements when McStarlite was evaluating automation vendors. Robotmaster’s ease of use and flexibility allowed the McStarlite team to manipulate process-specific parameters and achieve the required feed rates, RPMs, forces, and roughing and finishing passes.

Thanks to automation, they are now able to deliver consistent and accurate parts in a fraction of the time, ultimately enabling them to meet the demands and stringent demands of the aerospace industry.

“Automation has been something we’ve wanted to do for over a decade, it’s a lot of planning and CAPEX, however, automation standardizes finish, consistency and improves our cycle time. “ – Saravanan Rajaram, Mechanical Engineering – Quality Assurance, McStarlite

Along with improvements in production, improving the working conditions of their operators and workers was a priority when considering the next investment for the organization. The type of manual labor done before automation was very hard on the backs, legs and arms of their workers. Providing a better working environment for its employees is a priority at McStarlite, which is why a user-friendly tool like Robotmaster was the ideal choice.

“We are very proud to have kept the same people who did the manual labor and trained them to be operators. The ease of use of Robotmaster allowed us to reassign the people who did the manual labor to use the robot now. Even operators with basic training can operate / program the robot, eliminating the need to hire trained and specialized operators. – Dimitar Nasev – Vice President, McStarlite

Programming and optimization of paths

There are two main ways to program an industrial robot. One is via the learning pendant, where each point is programmed individually, manually, using the robot, which is time consuming and inefficient.

Teach pendant programming

The second is via offline programming software (OLP), where programming is done on a computer allowing the robot to continue production without downtime. To learn more about the PLO, read this article Why Use Offline Robot Programming Software and How to Get Started.

OLP programming

The ability to reduce cycle times and increase production is a key feature of the PLO. The unique value that Robotmaster brings to McStarlite is not only the simple to use interface that allows their operators with no robot programming experience to be able to do this, but the path optimization capabilities have been a game-changer for them. .

“The optimization capabilities are absolutely brilliant. I did some programming myself, troubleshooting and fixing errors is a complicated and time consuming process. Robotmaster has made the process very simple, further reducing the time it takes to program the part. – Saravanan Rajaram, Mechanical Engineering – Quality Assurance, McStarlite

Robotmaster provides quick visualization of problems and opportunities to easily obtain optimal robot programs. Instead of the frustrating approach of chance, operators can quickly and easily ensure that their programs are free from errors. Mixed and low-volume production facilities particularly benefit from this technology, as fast, validated, offline programming dramatically improves profitability.

The results:

By taking the step towards automation, McStarlite can provide Airbus with consistent high quality parts, reduce cycle times and meet the demand for polished lip skins.

What’s next for McStarlite? Now being able to maximize profits and offer lower prices on future programs, McStarlite can be much more competitive and seize new opportunities and projects. They plan to add additional robotic cell components such as a rotary table to allow them to polish larger parts such as complete engine covers. We look forward to being a part of their journey as they continue to expand their capabilities.

Automation and offline robot programming opened the doors of opportunity to McStarlite. Find out how Robotmaster can help you increase your robot’s productivity and profitability, schedule a demo.

The content and opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow

Robotmaster (Hypertherm Inc.)

Robotmaster (Hypertherm Inc.)

Robotmaster, a Hypertherm brand, is offline robot programming software that helps manufacturers maximize their robot’s productivity with simple and efficient robot programming for a variety of applications such as cutting, deburring, milling, welding, spraying, polishing, sanding, grinding, deburring, and more. Robotmaster uses the built-in CAD / CAM functionality to make robotics programming easy and intuitive for everyone, even novice users.

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Calculating ROI of Offline Robot Programming Software

Capital investments in advanced manufacturing environments require careful consideration, especially if it is a new process or a new technology. If you are considering investing in PLO, here are some things to consider regarding potential return on investment (ROI).

Why Use Offline Robot Programming Software and How to Get Started

If you’ve added manufacturing robots to your facility, you already know the benefits they offer and the return on your investment. Robots have a downside when it comes to programming though – most of the time, they have to be offline to be updated or scheduled.

Learn more about Robotmaster (Hypertherm Inc.)

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