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Robot spraying of helicopter rotor blade ice protection system

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Describes an installation at Aerospace Composite Technologies in Luton to apply ice protection heating elements to the leading edge portion of the main rotor blade fitted to the Westland EH101 military helicopter. The elements comprising a layer of porous conductive metal are plasma sprayed along the 8.5m long composite blade by a Stäubli Unimation robot suspended from an overhead Güdel precision tracked motion system. The robot also undertakes other tasks in the cell including accurately trimming the back edge of the blade ready for assembly onto the rotor's carbon fibre spar. The benefits of the automatic application are compared with spraying by skilled operators.
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Keywords: Aerospace industry; Robots; Safety

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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