The fabrication of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) structures is generating more and more digital data. This data includes NDI data, dimensional data, thermocouple data, material properties data, and many other forms of process data. Currently, integrating all of this data into a global view of the process is very difficult. Typically each data set is analyzed in its own software package, limiting the ability to integrate the multiple data types.
This paper discusses work being supported by the US Air Force and US Navy to develop a software package to collect, organize, archive, and analyze this data. The data is organized by automatically aligning the data to 3D models of the parts being manufactured. The software can then visualize and layer the process data on various 3D models, such as mold models showing mold seams and thermocouple locations, ply models showing ply drops, preform models showing individual preforms, etc. This enables performing detailed analysis to detect trends at specific locations on the model. These trends can be indications of process problems.
This technology has been successfully applied to improve first pass yield, reduce scrap, and lower risk associated with the CFRP structure fabrication process. Further, this aggregation of data on a 3D model has been used to improve MRB processes, increasing production rate while managing risk. Finally, this technology can be used to drive the digital thread, a linkage of the manufacturing and in-service maintenance data aggregated over the life of a component.