Centre for Aerospace Technology & Training (CATT)

RRC’s First Industrial Campus

Established in 2009, CATT became the first Industrial Campus for Red River College, and is based on a successful technological partnership between RRC, StandardAero, enabled by Western Economic Diversification and the Province of Manitoba. Co-located at StandardAero’s Plant 5 facility, this site provides students and industry with access to advanced technologies and equipment that would not be possible otherwise.

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CATT is a ‘technology validation’ site where industry can test new processes and materials without interrupting their existing production flow. Access to this equipment — and expert operators — allows for the development of process knowledge and the integration of new processes prior to an organization making a significant capital investment. CATT is a perfect example of a partnership between industry and research/education. It’s a win-win situation for both parties, because it encourages the sharing of resources and optimizing the use of emerging technologies for the benefit of all involved, including industry, students, interns and faculty. Graduating students benefit from learning techniques through access to this advanced technology, and feed the province’s appetite for highly-trained individuals to enter the workforce.

CATT Industrial Campus co-located at StandardAero

CATT Industrial Campus co-located at StandardAero

The CATT has a variety of leading-edge laser systems for welding, cladding and cutting parts with complex geometries and thicknesses. It also has equipment for vapor phase crack cleaning and the application of aerospace hot section coating, a Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)/Fluoride Ion Cleaning (FIC) system.Other technologies extend to include additive manufacturing 3-D printers for rapid prototyping, a plastic welding system, a dual-armed robot with machine vision system, and a digital X-ray tomography system (a non-destructive inspection system for identifying defects in both 2-D and 3-D). An on-site metallurgy lab enables CATT to partition, mount and evaluate the welding, cladding, coating and cleaning samples for immediate results.  There is also an onsite campus work area where students, interns and RRC faculty/research professionals are able to work together on projects related to the CATT.

In working with aerospace materials, many challenges exist in the joining and bonding of high-strength or lighter-weight metals. With the increased emphasis on “green manufacturing” and energy conservation, the bonding and repair of lightweight materials becomes a competitive technological challenge. The CATT helps to directly address these issues.

There are many different examples of robotics and welding technology available at the CATT Centre, including:

Robotic MIG Welder
CMT robotic welding at CATT

Cold Metal Transfer Robotic Welding

This robot provides a superior Cold Metal Transfer (CMT) weld in a fraction of the time it would take by human hand. This is also a bridge technology that connects the type of robotic training conducted at the College and the advanced robotic welding capability in industry.

 

 

Manual Nd:YAG Laser
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Pulsed Nd:YAG micro welder

This pulsed Micro Laser is used for effective repair of titanium, aluminum and magnesium alloys while it also has the capability to conduct precision welding on thin metallic foils. It has 200W average power, and provides very low heat input for fine crack welding or cladding of small areas with wire minimizing heat distortion.

 

 

Robotic CO2 Laser
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Robotic CO2 laser

This system provides a flexible environment for the cutting, cladding and welding of other alloys. It has 2KW power, and operates with a 6-axis robot. It can be used with powder or wire feeding to build up edges or machine parts to repair or material cladding operations. Within the same robotic chamber is an alternate diode laser head that can produce more rapid cladding operations within defined areas. This provides increased speed and precision, with reduced material distortion.

Hybrid Laser

The high powered Hybrid/Fibre laser/Gas Metal Arc Welding system, one of only two in existence in Canada, can be used for single pass welding of thicker materials without the need for extensive edge preparation. The same system with an alternate laser diode Galvano Head System can be used to demonstrate high speed welding systems with longer separation distances between welding head and materials to be joined. Each of these systems demonstrate the capability of better or faster production welding scenarios.  Another CO2 laser system provides a flexible environment for cutting, cladding, and welding of other alloys. The system can be used with powder or wire feeding capabilities to build up edges or machine parts and aid in repair or material cladding operations. Within the same robotic chamber is an alternate diode laser head that produce more rapid cladding operations within defined areas.

Much of this technology has similar qualities to the additive manufacturing (or 3-D printing) technologies that are now emerging as sustainable manufacturing technologies in high-value sectors such as aerospace and manufacturing:

Plastic Welding System

Another emerging technology utilized at the CATT Centre is the laser welding of plastics. This plastic welding system can effectively bond together various plastics and composite materials, such as tail-light assemblies and electrical micro-componentry, for example.

Fortus 3-D Printer
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Industrial-sized 3D printing build platform

A Fortus 3D printer is another tool with which to explore additive manufacturing and the joining of different materials. There is a great deal of interest in this technology from the manufacturing industry, as it provides a complete solution for producing rapid prototypes.

It has an industrial-sized build chamber and can print in four (4) different polymer materials including:  ABS, PB, PPSF, and Ultem.  Additional polymer printers are available at the RRC Notre Dame Campus, as a part of the Model Factory and as a hands-on learning lab.

Two supporting technologies for the CATT campus are robotics and industrial x-ray tomography. Robots are an essential element in providing the fast and reproducible multi-axis welding and cutting systems used in many production environments. In addition to the dedicated robotic welding systems, the CATT contains:

Motoman Two-Armed Robot with Machine Vision
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15 axis 2-armed robot with machine vision

This robot, operating with an impressive 15 degrees of freedom, can provide solutions to industry’s automation needs across a wide range of applications, such as welding, cutting, pick-and-place, assembly and more. There is also an integrated machine vision system with the two-armed robot used amongst other things.

Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) / Fluoride Ion Cleaning (FIC)
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CVD/FIC facility

A controlled atmosphere furnace for vapour phase deposition of aluminide coatings, including platinum aluminide coatings. The FIC technology is used for deep crack cleaning using fluoride gas for pre-brazing preparation.

Metallurgy Lab

A full metallurgy lab is equipped to section, mount and evaluate metallurgical samples, also includes a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).

Digital X-ray Tomography
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2-D X-ray of gearbox

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2-D and 3-D X-ray tomography

This 225KV X-ray system with 3-D Computer Tomography (CT) has the ability to  non-destructively identify defects in 2-D and 3-D. It can identify flaws in welding or joining operations and can reveal internal structures or tolerances for different part assemblies. The non-destructive inspection capability of the X-ray tomography unit is an excellent complement to other visual NDE methods available at different RRC campus locations (see other facilities & capability), and is part of a foundation for developing a distributed network of expertise in imaging and vision systems for manufacturing operation. It also offers the benefit of improving processes and fabrication methods.

For more information or if you are interested in learning more or getting a tour, contact tacinfo@rrc.ca