WELDER project

The future aircraft manufacturing factories need to be oriented to more flexible and adaptable manufacturing systems,
enabling shorter manufacturing cycles, environmental friendliness, energy efficiency and higher productivity. It is
not possible to keep meeting the current and forecasted demand (+75 airplanes per month) with actual production
rates. The evolution of the manufacturing sector, not only in aviation, towards increasing flexibility, productivity and
resource efficiency is adopting the industry 4.0 manufacturing paradigm and high performing materials (in terms of
mechanical properties and environmental impact). WELDER is aligned with these trends and will contribute towards
the production rate improvement through the development of flexible, efficient, automated and easily integrable
(PnP) manufacturing solutions replacing conventional low automated or even manual tasks (especially regarding the
use of composites), through lightweight robot-based solutions and digitally assisted/controlled manufacturing
enabling the use of lightweight and high-performance thermoplastic composites, which can be used within the
restricted workspaces in the existing production lines and those to be enabled by the CS2 programme

The main objective of the WELDER project is to design, develop and deploy at TL´s facilities two robot-based and
fully operative welding solutions (namely, ultrasonic welding end-effectors and resistance welding end-effectors),
including all the needed tooling and auxiliaries for the longitudinal barrel joint of the 8m long fuselage demonstrator.
Moreover, WELDER will be focused on implementing an online monitoring and control system based on an endto-end digital manufacturing solution, enabling a bidirectional dataflow to feed the whole lifecycle management
digital twin and, thus, optimising the process and product performance and while enabling new approval/acceptance
procedures. Therefore, the successful execution of the WELDER project will become the spearhead of the aerospace
industry thermoplastic adoption strategy through the provision and demonstration of the airplane fuselage welding
replacing conventional joining systems relying on fastening, riveting and adhesives, thus highly improving the
environmental and economic performance of the aerospace sector, according to CS2 objectives.

WELDER is aware of the arising challenges when such technical developments are put into practice. In this regard,
to ensure a good behaviour during the resistance and ultrasonic welding it is essential to properly define the process
window parameters (intensity and time or amplitude, force and speed, respectively) which are totally dependent on
the composite materials to be used and, thus, a good understanding of thermoplastic materials and properties,
performances and capabilities are needed. Additionally, to adequately address the equipment design (in terms of
functionalities, controlled variables, etc) it is also required to have a proper understanding on the composites materials
as well as on the automation and technology side. In this sense, to ensure an optimised welding process, WELDER
will deploy a thorough and ambitious technology de-risking strategy based on testing (welding tests and mechanical
and physico-chemical tests) and simulation trials (FEM simulations and development of a digital twin of the overall
system) throughout the whole project, supporting every development stage (from design and optimisation to
manufacture), helping on the early detection of any non-compliance issue and contributing to the successful execution
of the project within the ambitious timeframe of the project. Regarding the TPCs materials to be used (frame coupling
manufacturing, coupons manufacturing, test pieces, etc.), partners experience reveal that it is more efficient (both on
economic and technical performance) to acquire the thermoplastic composite materials and, then, in-house
consolidate them than directly purchase consolidated materials with the desired thickness. WELDER consortium will
be open to the Topic Leader (TL) decisions regarding the materials to be used, while it is envisaged to use the UD
CF/LMPAEK. This is a new TPC material with high performance capabilities but with limited experience for
aerospace applications

Finally, WELDER will implement a Digital Thread linking product and process lifecycles, keeping an up-to-date
virtual representation of the product. The adoption of holistic methodologies at process and product level for the
monitoring and control, specifically adapted to the thermoplastic welding (ultrasonic and resistance), opening the
opportunity for greater process and product optimisation while enabling a new paradigm on quality assurance based
on inline monitoring and Non-Destructive-Testing (NDT), replacing conventional part/piece certification schemes.
It is important to highlight the experience of consortium partners in previous and linked CS2 projects like the
MultiFAL project (JTI-CS2-2017-CfP07-LPA-02-22), where the automated plant system is being developed