To see a video of the technology in action, click here.
Many airplane windows and other lenses aren't made from glass because it isn't strong or resilient enough for aviation uses. Instead, acrylic is used for windows, fixtures and cockpit canopies and is manufactured to exacting specific sizes and contours. However, within three to seven years, a phenomenon known as "crazing" begins to happen -- weathering and microfracturing that dulls the clear surfaces into a milky, opaque mess.
"This achievement can save the aviation industry millions and millions of dollars," said
Battelle worked with Fontana to prove the robot can refurbish the cockpit canopy of the T-45A Goshawk, a tandem-seat jet trainer for
With deliveries underway, Battelle's system replaces two trained, skillful technicians who require up to 10 days to polish the canopy by hand, allowing them to work on other projects and relieving them of a tedious, repetitive task. The robotic system works much faster, with consistent sanding pressure that ensures proper thickness of the material, thus making approval for flight usage easier to obtain.
Development of the system, with proprietary software at its heart, started years ago at Battelle and was known as the Multi-Use Robot System. It inspected B-52 wing fuel tanks, which had corrosion that caused paint to peel from their interior surfaces. The system now is showing that industrial robots can perform a variety of maintenance operations.
Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in
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