Boeing said last week that electronic measurement tools had made tooling costs for its concept demonstrators for the Joint Strike Fighter more than 70% cheaper than for its earlier F-22 fighter programme.
The company integrated 3D modelling software with measurement software, allowing shop personnel to check part quality and fit much earlier in the assembly process.
The same tools will be used in the next phase of JSF design, and are expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of reduced tooling and cycle time.
Designing, building and maintaining tooling can account for as much as 40% of the total start-up costs of a conventional aircraft production programme.
Boeing recently built a full-scale JSF stealth-validation aircraft model using no tooling except for simple holding stands. In doing so, it avoided more than 600 hours of tool design and fabrication time.
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