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How do they use robots in the aerospace sector?

Written by

Neil Martin

Neil Martin

Have you ever looked at a plane fuselage, or wing, and seen the thousands of holes (hopefully filled with rivets, otherwise get off)? But, image doing all that with your dinky Black & Decker drill? Nightmare. Which is where robots step in. 

Hundreds of thousands of rivets hold together the fuselage and wings of a modern aircraft. Hand drilling these would not only take an age, but lack a consistency needed for a safe-conscious aircraft manufacturer. So fully automated riveting machines are used extensively to produce a consistent, fast and error free process. And this dramatically reduces costs.   

Another important role for robots in the manufacture of aircraft is painting. Consistency is again the key issue here. Painting robots can apply layered coats of paint with maximum accuracy and minimal waste. They also keep humans inhaling toxic fumes. 

When building composite fuselage and wings, they are also used for applying carbon fibre strips, gradually building up layers of the material to create super strong structures. Here again, quality and accuracy are essential, especially as well made structures are far lighter and more fuel efficient. 

Robots are also used to inspect airframes for manufacturing faults and weaknesses, including cracks, unsound rivets, or delamination of composites. This greatly adds to safety.  

Robots are not just used in the construction of the fuselage and wings of course, but in the production of the engines and all ancillary components. Indeed, they are found operating throughout the industry. 

How do they use robots in the aerospace sector? image