Laser scanner reduces ejection seats costs

NVision’s HandHeld Laser Scanner to produce accurate copies of jet fighter ejection seats components from which to machine the seats or models used to make moulds.

Fain Models uses NVision’s HandHeld Laser Scanner to produce accurate copies of jet fighter ejection seats use the NVision scanner to capture the 3D geometry of the more than 100 components in the seat and then use the geometry to machine the seats or models used to make moulds "The NVision HandHeld Scanner is ideal for this application because it can freely move around an object to capture data at any angle at a very high resolution," said Chris Runge, scanning and reverse engineering manager for Fain Models.

The companies that make flight simulators need high fidelity ejection seats that look, feel, and function just like the original seats but do not require the ejection hardware and other internal components.

It typically costs US$150,000 to US$300,000 to buy real fighter aircraft seats from the original equipment manufacturers in small quantities, said NVision.

* Easily maneouvreable – Fain Models, Bedford, Texas, USA, has developed a method to produce the seats for a much lower cost of only US$15,000 to US$75,000 per seat, that is, 1/10 to 1/4 of the cost of the actual seat.

The company disassembles a real seat and places the components on a granite base.

The technician then moves the NVision HandHeld Scanner around the seat to capture its complete geometry.

NVision told manufacturingtalk that a key advantage of the NVision HandHeld Scanner is that it is mounted on a mechanical arm so it can move freely around any size part.

The mechanical arm keeps track of the scanner’s location so all data is collected within the same coordinate system.

The NVision scanner generates a point cloud consisting of the coordinates of individual points.

Fain technicians use the scanner’s software to convert the point cloud into a polygon mesh.

Then they use reverse engineering software to convert the polygon data into a surface model.

The surface model in the IGES or STEP format is exported into CAD.

The model is then fine-tuned and toolpaths are created for machining.

Most of the seat is machined directly from aluminum.

Plastics parts the pilot directly interfaces with are produced from vacuum tools, also produced from scanned data.

Runge said that Fain Model’s method enables it to manufacture a complete seat months faster, when compared with traditional methods, depending on the level of fidelity required.

He explained: "This makes it possible for us to offer large savings to companies that build simulators.

A key to our method’s success is that the NVision HandHeld Scanner is able to quickly reverse engineer complicated parts at a high level of accuracy."

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