Laser Cleaner Robot to be Produced for F-35 Lightning

Fastems is delivering two Automated Structure Laser Cleaner (AutoSLC) units for the F-35 Lightning II Wing Line. The delivery of the new project is estimated to be completed near the end of 2021.

F-35 Lightning II [Image source and copyright: Lockheed Martin. Used with permission.]

 

 

Fastems' AutoSLC solution is based on a robotized system, which is equipped with a laser ablation scan head, designed to automatically remove primers and other protective coatings from F-35 wing components. Laser ablation provides a pristine surface to which nutplates can be mechanically bonded without using attach rivets. Previous methods of coating removal entailed manual sanding and solvent wiping which proved to be timely and yielded inconsistent bonding results.

The Fastems AutoSLC system will process more than 3,000 drilled holes, reducing touch labor hours and improving aircraft quality for the end customer.

The AutoSLC's new technical advancements, such as automated image processing, gathers information on quality anomalies for traceability and process improvement. It will also include a tailored operating system based on Fastems MMS (Manufacturing Management System). The solution is expected to shorten lead times by approximately 88 hours per unit, driving down the cost of the F-35.

[Image source and copyright: Lockheed Martin. Used with permission.]

 

 

"We are proud and excited to continue our collaboration with Lockheed Martin on the production of their advanced, fifth-generation stealth fighter, the F-35," says Mikko Nyman, CEO, Fastems. "This has been a truly unique project for our Finnish company, and we look forward to continuing and further expanding our cooperation with Lockheed Martin."

Fastems has gathered a partner network of industry leaders for the development of the AutoSLC project. For example, the Finnish laser processing company Ionix is helping to develop the laser ablation end effector of the robot. During the AutoSLC project delivery, with this established partner network, Fastems and the Finnish supply chain are providing a substantial contribution to the F-35 program worldwide.

"At Lockheed Martin, we test and validate any new complex solution from the initial concept, through design and build, and after delivery. The fact that Fastems understands and shares this attention to detail positions them well to deliver a quality product at every phase," says Steve Callaghan, vice president, F-35 Business Development and Strategic Integration. "Fastems' AutoSLC solution will help us achieve full rate production at our targeted costs and will provide our customer with a high-quality product."

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