The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), in partnership with Ingersoll Machine Tools and Orbital ATK, successfully completed Phase I of a three-year project to develop an automated inspection system for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Ohio.

The newly developed automated composite structure inspection system (ACSIS) achieved a defect detection rate of up to 99.7% in aircraft components produced by automated fiber placement (AFP) that featured varying geometries, ranging from flat to complex. Widely used by both military and commercial aerospace programs, AFP is a repeatable, cost-effective composite structure fabrication method.

ACSIS represents a significant step forward from the current manual AFP inspection practice, which is extremely time-consuming, laborious and visually tedious as defects are difficult to discern. With ACSIS, inspections occur in real-time while the composite structure is being fabricated, alerting the operator and allowing defects and anomalies to be detected and repaired during the fabrication process.

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