US 11,052,617 B2
Fabrication of plank stringers
Scott M. Spencer, Everett, WA (US); Jessica R. Hughes, Seattle, WA (US); Jae Dong Hwang, Bellvue, WA (US); Joseph L. Sweetin, Edmonds, WA (US); Kanna M. Pham, Renton, WA (US); Jaime C. Garcia, Kent, WA (US); Gregory P. Freed, Gig Harbor, WA (US); Frederick T. Calkins, Renton, WA (US); Cynthia G. Feng, Seattle, WA (US); and Jiangtian Cheng, Mukilteo, WA (US)
Assigned to The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL (US)
Filed by The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL (US)
Filed on Nov. 1, 2018, as Appl. No. 16/178,354.
Prior Publication US 2020/0139646 A1, May 7, 2020
Int. Cl. B29C 70/38 (2006.01); B29C 70/54 (2006.01); B29K 307/04 (2006.01)
CPC B29C 70/386 (2013.01) [B29C 70/54 (2013.01); B29C 70/545 (2013.01); B29K 2307/04 (2013.01)] 20 Claims
OG exemplary drawing
 
1. A fabrication system for a plank stringer for use in an aircraft, wherein the plank stringer comprises a longitudinal axis and a plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material, and wherein each ply of reinforcing material in the plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material is arranged at an orientation angle with respect to the longitudinal axis, the fabrication system comprising:
an automated tape-laying machine (ATLM);
an automated cutting tool; and
a computing device comprising:
one or more processors; and
a non-transitory, computer readable medium having stored thereon instructions, that when executed by the one or more processors, cause the computing device to perform functions comprising:
grouping the plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material into a plurality of charges, wherein each charge in the plurality of charges comprises a sub stack of plies;
grouping the plurality of charges into two or more groups such that, for each charge in a given group, a respective substack of plies comprises a sequence of orientation angles corresponding to the given group, and wherein each group has a different sequence of orientation angles for the respective substack of plies and wherein a first charge in a given group of charges includes fewer plies than at least one other charge in the given group;
laying up, via the ATLM, each group of charges as a continuous blanket of plies, wherein each continuous blanket of plies comprises the respective substack of plies for each charge in the respective group, wherein each group of charges is laid up as a separate continuous blanket of plies;
cutting, via the automated cutting tool each continuous blanket of plies into the respective group of charges; and
stacking the plurality of charges to form the plank stringer.
 
8. A method of fabricating a plank stringer for use in an aircraft, wherein the plank stringer comprises a longitudinal axis and a plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material, and wherein each ply of reinforcing material in the plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material is arranged at an orientation angle with respect to the longitudinal axis, the method comprising:
grouping, via a computing device, the plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material into a plurality of charges, wherein each charge in the plurality of charges comprises a substack of plies;
grouping, via the computing device, the plurality of charges into two or more groups such that, for each charge in a given group, a respective substack of plies comprises a sequence of orientation angles corresponding to the given group, and wherein each group has a different sequence of orientation angles for the respective substack of plies and wherein a first charge in a given group of charges includes fewer plies than at least one other charge in the given group;
laying up each group of charges as a continuous blanket of plies, wherein each continuous blanket of plies comprises the respective substack of plies for each charge in the respective group, wherein each group of charges is laid up as a separate continuous blanket of plies;
cutting each continuous blanket of plies into the respective group of charges; and
stacking the plurality of charges to form the plank stringer.
 
15. A non-transitory computer readable medium having stored thereon instructions executable by the computing device to perform functions for fabricating a plank stringer for use in an aircraft, wherein the plank stringer comprises a longitudinal axis and a plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material, and wherein each ply of reinforcing material in the plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material is arranged at an orientation angle with respect to the longitudinal axis, the functions comprising:
grouping the plurality of stacked plies of reinforcing material into a plurality of charges, wherein each charge in the plurality of charges comprises a substack of plies;
grouping the plurality of charges into two or more groups such that, for each charge in a given group, a respective substack of plies comprises a sequence of orientation angles corresponding to the given group, and wherein each group has a different sequence of orientation angles for the respective substack of plies and wherein a first charge in a given group of charges includes fewer plies than at least one other charge in the given group;
laying up each group of charges as a continuous blanket of plies, wherein each continuous blanket of plies comprises the respective substack of plies for each charge in the respective group, wherein each group of charges is laid up as a separate continuous blanket of plies;
cutting each continuous blanket of plies into the respective group of charges; and
stacking the plurality of charges to form the plank stringer.