Before an airplane takes its first flight, it has to undergo countless inspections and certification procedures. The level of detail and processes required can be very demanding – even a tiny metal component for a window has to be thoroughly inspected before being fitted onto an airplane. These measures are necessary to ensure the safety of the passengers.

One such company that exemplifies this is Hizeaero, a South Korea-based aerospace structure manufacturer, which utilises the Faro Edge ScanArm HD to conduct its safety inspections across its projects.

Established in 1999, Hizeaero first started supplying aircraft wings to various domestic and international aircraft manufacturers. The company’s operations later expanded to include the entire aircraft manufacturing process, ranging from aircraft assembly to refurbishment maintenance, and the production of aircraft components – such as sheet metal machining and surface treatment. In 2017, Hizeaero set up its third factory, occupying a total area of 11,000 square metres in Busan.

Some of the aerospace industry’s biggest names are Hizeaero’s customers. They include Boeing, AVIC International, COMAC, ShinMaywa, ACM, ST Aerospace, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.

A new challenge

In 2016, Hizeaero signed a supply contract with Boeing’s subsidiary, Boeing Tianjin Composite (BTC) – a Chinese aircraft manufacturer. One of the key components that Hizeaero had to supply was the Ti-Foil, a film that will be inserted into the rim of an aircraft window.

The Ti-Foil is an ultrathin titanium film with a thickness of just 0.076mm, and this posed a major challenge to the team at Hizeaero, both in terms of production and inspection. This obstacle was a major push factor that led the company to invest in the Faro ScanArm.

“While titanium is a very strong metal, it behaves very differently when it is just 0.003 inch thick,” explained Minkwon Yoo, a member of the Quality Assurance Team at Hizeaero. “It’s highly malleable and can easily be bent with the slightest pressure. The handling of Ti-Foil alone was a major challenge.”

For these reasons, the team at Hizearo could not measure the Ti-Foil with the existing fixed coordinate measuring machine (CMM) that they had. As the material was incredibly thin, it was impossible to conduct inspections using conventional contact measurement methods. They came across the portable FARO ScanArm while sourcing for a suitable non-contact scanning device to measure the Ti-Foil.

“It was an easy decision as the device came highly recommended by our client, BTC,” added Yoo. “We valued their input as they have had first-hand experience using several of Faro’s contact measurement solutions with great success.”

Using non-contact measurement for the first time

The Faro ScanArm marked Hizeaero’s maiden experience with non-contact scanning equipment. One of Faro’s best-selling products, the Faro ScanArm offers contact measurements using a probe, as well as non-contact measurements through its integrated Laser Line Probe (LLP). With a seven-axis rotation and a human-like arm design, the device provides users with high levels of versatility and a measurement range of up to 2.7 metres. Capable of scanning at 560,000 points per second, the LLP captures even the most intricate components in fine detail.

At Hizeaero, once the Ti-Foil manufacturing process is complete, the component is scanned with the Faro ScanArm to ensure that it complies with the specifications laid out at the onset. Measurements for the Ti-Foil are captured in seconds without direct contact. The information captured includes the length, R value, and angle.

Hizeaero also uses the contact probe on the Faro ScanArm to inspect the check fixtures used in the Ti-Foil manufacturing process. Specifically, the team uses the device to perform a temperature compensation check. This is to ensure that the fixture (which is made of metal) maintains its original size and shape, so that it accurately measures 35.56cm of Ti-Foil. The team does this by measuring the holes on the check fixture.

Intuitive and easy to use

Yoo appreciated the ease of use and the intuitiveness of the Faro ScanArm, features that the fixed CMM did not possess. As a result, less time is required to train his staff as well.

“The device was extremely easy to handle,” he added.

As BTC required measurements of ten specific locations to ensure accurate inspections, the portability feature of the Faro ScanArm came in handy. This allowed Hizeaero to conduct high-precision measurements anywhere, and at any time. Reports are generated in real-time as measurements are taken.

“Even when the surface plate is in use, the ScanArm can run inspections quickly in another part of our production facility,” said Yoo. “The automated report generation feature is very easy to use. The layout is neat and simple, and we no longer have to do manual data entry in Excel!”

At Hizeaero, the FARO ScanArm is the only measurement device used in the manufacturing process of the Ti-Foil. With each batch of production, all sample tests are conducted by the FARO ScanArm. Without the support of the FARO ScanArm, measuring the Ti- Foil would be significantly more complex and time consuming.

Hwajoon Cha, Assistant Manager at Hizeaero, has overall responsibility for the measuring equipment used by the Quality Team. On the possibility of further growth in measurement capabilities, Cha said that the company is looking to purchase additional sets of Faro ScanArm in the near future. Cha is optimistic that the use of Faro ScanArm will soon become the norm in the domestic aviation industry, and Hizeaero looks forward to building a brighter future in close partnership with Faro.

“Currently, we are only using the FARO ScanArm to inspect the Ti-Foil,” said Cha. “However, after much success with the device, we are seriously considering it for a variety of other tests in the future. For instance, we can improve on how our tool inspections and sheet metal inspections are carried out. While it will take some time to seek approval, I think incorporating such advanced technology is necessary for us to obtain uniform and standardised results.”