Jill Cyra (Boeing)

"Case Study: Using Commercial Grade Composites for Aircraft Tooling Structures"
(30 minutes)

This presentation will address using low cost commercial grade composite materials for work platforms and other tooling structures used in a factory setting to facilitate aircraft manufacture and assembly.
Tooling structures are typically custom designed with just a few units and have historically been manufactured from steel or aluminum according to the relevant material code (AISC for steel or ADM for aluminum). Tooling structural design and analysis is governed by local regulatory requirements which are typically drawn from the International Building Code (IBC) and OSHA requirements for non-building structures.
Traditional aircraft assembly tools are robust and heavy to provide the necessary dimensional rigidity. However weight can be important for some tools such as temporary work platforms used inside the aircraft during assembly. For these and other tools, it is desirable to find a lightweight alternative to the historical metallic tools such as lighter weight composites. Generally tools are custom designed for a specific purpose and only one or two units are manufactured, so using aircraft grade composites is typically not cost effective.
The challenge has been to find a way to use low cost, mass-produced commercial grade composite components for tooling structures which still meet the necessary regulatory requirements. Typically the commercial grade composites do not have published material properties which can be used for traditional stress analysis to demonstrate compliance to regulatory requirements, therefore compliance is demonstrated via testing. Boeing Tooling group has developed a procedure to perform validation testing of composite tooling structures to meet the IBC requirements for alternate materials. The validation test is performed on every unit before tool goes into service.
Two examples will be discussed: a temporary composite work platform using inside aircraft during assembly and a composite ladder used during joining of fuselage sections.

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