Manufacturing Today - Volume 18, Issue 2 - 52

AIM Aerospace

xclusive feature

expanding our automation in the
Washington facilities and have more
air to breathe. On the other side we
are taking what we do today, making
it more cost-effective, automating it
and adding skills for our employees
in intelligent composite manufacturing technologies."

Automation Technology
AIM Aerospace will implement collaborative robots in its revamped
manufacturing facilities. "We are applying the use of collaborative robots
which are much smaller and more
flexible than the large robotic machines that are enclosed in a cage and
you can't approach because they are
too dangerous and heavy duty," Cagnatel says. "The collaborative robots
work alongside humans. It's much
more flexible and cost-competitive."
Collaborative robots will not replace jobs at AIM Aerospace, Cagnatel says. In fact, the company expects
business to grow 10 percent year over
year for the next four years and the
workforce to increase by 30 percent
across all sites. "Collaborative robots
will allow our workers a safer environment," he adds. "Repetitive tasks
that cause humans wear and tear can
be done by the robots themselves. Robotics will launch us into a new era of
manufacturing which will allow our
employees a safer, more robust working environment. This allows them to
put their thought processes into play
and not their hands."
Automation will be key to AIM
Aerospace's growth. "We could take
our factories and move them into
a low-cost country; that's simple,"
Cagnatel says. "But we feel we can
grow our business by thinking differently, through proper leadership and
by providing a higher-quality product to our customers. We will reduce
52

manufacturing-today.com VOLUME 18, ISSUE 2

aim aerospace will
implement collaborative
robots in its revamped
manufacturing facilities.

health and safety risks to our employees, grow our business and reduce
our costs. It might be a more difficult
journey, but as industry leaders we
are responsible for moving the industry needle forward."
The majority of AIM Aerospace's
work is build-to-print where it takes
an existing design from their customers, for example, and industrializes it.
The company is also in a unique position to take on development projects,
in their Research and Technology
Center, where it designs proprietary
parts and processes in thermoplastic
carbon fiber.
"That's how we are going to grow,
through thermoplastic manufacturing," Cagnatel says. "We will use
chopped as well as continuous fiber
material, that will allow us to make
components that are currently made
of metals such as titanium, aluminum
or have complex geometries. We will
make them more cost-effective, lighter and stronger with thermoplastic
technologies, drastically improving
the buy-to-fly ratios."
Instead of being made by hand,
most carbon fiber components will be
produced by fully automated robotics

systems. "This system is environmentally friendly because most carbon
fiber components need a large autoclave that takes an enormous amount
of energy, where thermoplastics do
not," Cagnatel adds. "It's less cost, the
same strength, increased toughness,
and environmentally friendly. The
thermoplastics strategy and automation will allow us to grow in the engine
components and structures market."
AIM Aerospace operates under
tight quality control to supply components for the aerospace industry.
"The level of quality control and cost
is very high," Cagnatel admits. "Every
one of our products is fully traceable
down to the individual that is producing it on the manufacturing floor.
Composites, the type we make, are
hand laid up, so as soon as you introduce the human factor you are prone
to make mistakes, which eventually
causes you to scrap components and
increase cost."
With automation, AIM Aerospace
says process control is built into the
machines and the robots can tell
when the process is drifting. Collaborative robots will stop the process to ensure the part is built to the


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - Volume 18, Issue 2

Contents
Manufacturing Today - Volume 18, Issue 2 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - Volume 18, Issue 2 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - Volume 18, Issue 2 - 1
Manufacturing Today - Volume 18, Issue 2 - Contents
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Manufacturing Today - Volume 18, Issue 2 - Cover3
Manufacturing Today - Volume 18, Issue 2 - Cover4
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