Case Study


Automation Design – Composite Aircraft Fuselage Component Manufacturing  

The Challenge – Equipment Engineering

Client: Custom Equipment Manufacturer
Objective: Design and build a system to form sheets of material

A custom equipment manufacturer needed to design and build a system to form sheets of carbon fiber composite material into structural profiles used in a commercial aircraft fuselage. 

A progressive assembly process transforms carbon fiber sheets into commercial aircraft fuselage structural components.

automation design - aircraft fuselage

Our Solution

Sterling Engineering provided engineers to design custom equipment to automate the assembly of a composite aircraft fuselage componentThe team worked with the client to develop concepts that delivered the expected performance outcomes within the client’s compressed project scheduleThe (2ft x 45ft) carbon fiber sheets were fixtured on pallets and transported via a driven conveyor between 8 separate work cellsThe unwind station dispensed the raw material from a roll onto pallets, orientated, fixtures, and cleaned the material before the hydraulic press station formed the final structural profile under high temperature / high pressure The finished goods from this process line were then wrapped into the hoop structure used to form the composite aircraft fuselage.  

The Results

Sterling Engineering analyzed the forces, temperatures, and pressures required at each work cell and designed a pallet that could repeatably fixture the sheet and a material handling system that could load the components accurately at each station.  Sterling completed the engineering analysis/design and delivered a complete engineering documentation package for the client to fabricate the system.

Project Duration

12 Weeks

Project Size

$50K Design
$10M Overall

Project Team

6 Engineers

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