Using Metrology in the Aerospace Sector

Mission-critical products and components manufactured for the aerospace sector require precision and reliability during fabrication in order to ensure success. This means an onus is placed on metrology tools to function properly, feeding back accurate, correct measurement results at the first time of asking.

One trend gaining significant ground across the aerospace sector is the use of composite materials, generally, materials that are comprised of fibers in a resin matrix, such as carbon- and glass-reinforced plastic. These materials must be rigid, strong, tough and low-density.

Composite materials can be shaped into more complex geometries than conventional metal materials such as aluminum and steel, but they are also priced much higher than standards metals.

These state-of-the-art materials can also be hard to work with and assemble, resulting in increased manufacturing costs. This is where metrology can play a key role in the development and support of cost-effective production methods.

Metrology-assisted manufacturing is crucial to ensuring the manufacturing process is more cost-effective, and metrology tools, including ZYGO’s 3D optical profilers and laser interferometers, are absolutely vital as enabling technologies in contemporary aerospace manufacturing.

Metrology-assisted manufacturing has fundamentally led to improved cost-efficiency and a reduction in production cycles, and this is critical when composites that require accurate assembly are being used as extremely tight tolerance attainment is crucial and must be adhered to.

Good metrology offers a better chance of production being right the first time, thus negating extremely costly rework and waste.

The use of optical components and assemblies are also a growing trend in aerospace applications. This area is one that ZYGO has invested in for a number of years — offering high-precision reconnaissance windows, laser fusion amplifiers and targeting devices for the most demanding conditions.

For aerospace applications, delivering consistently high-quality and reliable optics that are compliant with stringent requirements is absolutely essential for environmental robustness, compact packaging and high-energy power durability.

In order to ensure these requirements are met, ultra-precise measurements are required, and the very best metrology tools and expertise are necessary.

Top-of-the-range metrology tools combined with the highest levels of expertise are fundamental for promoting and supporting innovation and research initiatives across key application areas.

Due to a tightening of performance requirements of these optics, manufacturers must place their trust in advanced metrology tools to acquire the high levels of confidence they need to support state-of-the-art applications.

Metrology-assisted manufacturing and the requirement to acquire good metrology tools to measure sub-micron tolerances in various optical applications means that metrology is now a core element in the aerospace sector in terms of assembly, production process control, fully automated inspection and troubleshooting.

As a result, metrology as a motivating technology driving innovation and efficiency is an increasingly important component to the future success of the sector.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Zygo Corporation.

For more information on this source, please visit Zygo Corporation.


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