CATEC Advanced Center for

The “Factory of the Future concrete”: with feet on the ground in aerospace sector

February 16th 2016

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We all know that over the next 20 years, the forecast for the sector are very positive: 35,000 new aircraft will be needed and will make a turnover of more than five billion dollars ($ But: who will participate in that business? Will we be us? Will be the companies in Andalusia? How will be our participation?

In those 5 billion must be Andalusia, but the truth is this big business is only for the most competitive companies in the world. That is why now the focus should be on being more competitive in manufacturing, and here comes the need to apply new formulas to manufacturing challenges: a change of paradigm, the Factory of the Future or Industry 4.0.

For ten years, in CATEC we have been providing solutions based on additive manufacturing (commonly known as 3D printing). We already have pieces that will fly in space launchers from the European Space Agency, and will form part of the primary structure of satellites. And we have designed and manufactured them with this technology that should begin to enter into machining companies in Andalusia, because are already being introduced by German companies and other aerospace regions.

In CATEC today we design and manufacture tools with additive manufacturing available in 72 hours for some companies in Andalusia, but we are already studying what aircraft parts are easier to manufacture, and tomorrow will be more profitable to “print” small and complex parts than machine them. We are focused on improving manufacturing technologies, the famous “Factory of the Future”, and we do designing flexible and automated inspection systems, for example with active thermography, or 100% functional and industrial systems to leakages inspection by computer vision.

We provide solutions for monitoring the curing of composite parts during the actual curing phase in the autoclave. We are also very involved with our companies to automate their processes (drilling, sealant application, painting, welding), because we deeply know complexity in aeronautical processes. In this industry we manufacture small series and we are interested in collaborative robots with very fast programming or low cost humanoid robots.

Last five years we have developed laser projection systems to help operators in assembly processes. And, of course, we are working on the production control in real time and communicate with enterprise systems (RFID or beacons) to generate and exploit wide amounts of data oriented to provide useful information for the control of factories.

We have many things clear, for example, that productivity can be increased with support systems to assembly processes based on augmented reality (with light projection, for example). It also seems clear that there is a great future in simulating maintenance processes or the simulation from the design phase to ensure that an aircraft will be maintainable at a reasonable cost.

I am convinced that most of those 5 billion dollars will be for early adopters of the new manufacturing paradigm.

Joaquín Rodríguez Grau
CATEC Director Manager

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