Next Generation Aircraft Lithium Battery Automated Fixture

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The manufacturing of safety-critical systems, such as aircraft battery packs, requires a high level of precision and consistency that is difficult to achieve with human labor alone. Factory automation presents an opportunity for manufacturers of such systems to significantly improve the quality and efficiency of their operations. This team designed and built a low-cost, portable fixture to automate the attachment of an adhesive heater blanket to a set of battery cells.

The final design uses a series of stepper motors attached to 3D-printed clamp arms. The motors are controlled by a Raspberry Pi running Python code developed by the team. Attached to the Pi is a touchscreen which displays a graphical user interface (GUI). Users of the system can load a set of battery cells into the fixture and clip a heater blanket to the clamp arms. The GUI can then start the application, which consists of the clamp arms automatically closing around the battery cells and in the process accurately adhering the blanket to the cells. The system also features an emergency stop function, allowing the user to halt the application of the blanket at any point.

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