Farnborough Air Show: Laser scanner helps engineers fit parts to 0.356mm accuracy

The demands of the aerospace industry mean that engineers have to fit components at tolerances of a few thousandths of an inch - even when it comes to mundane items like attaching brackets on a fuselage.

The demands of the aerospace industry mean that engineers have to fit components at tolerances of a few thousandths of an inch - even when it comes to mundane items like attaching brackets on a fuselage.

Until now engineers have used manual measuring techniques to work out where exactly to attach their brackets and other components. But ensuring they are positioned within with a few thousandths of an inch of required is challenging.

SL laser, a 46-strong company based in Germany, is developing a laser scanner that can show engineers exactly where each bracket goes inside an aircraft fuselage.

The company claims the scanner, known as the Proassembler, allows engineers to position components twice as accurately as manual measuring techniques.

"Measuring can introduce some inaccuracy. We offer an accuracy of plus or minus 14 thousandths of an inch. Manually we are talking about 30 thousandths of an inch," said Jason Galek, product manager.

The unit shines a laser to indicate the exact position of each component in a 3D structure.

The laser, which is still under development, has also been used by aerospace manufacturers for double checking that engineers have not missed out an essential bracket.

The company has also developed a laser system to help manufacturers build accurate composites.

Composites are built-up layer by layer. The laser predicts an image of the shape of the composite component onto a 3D surface, ensuring that engineers place the substrate in exactly the right position.

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