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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2015, Article ID 952049, 11 pages
Research Article

A Force Sensorless Method for CFRP/Ti Stack Interface Detection during Robotic Orbital Drilling Operations

1The State Key Laboratory of Fluid Power Transmission and Control, College of Mechanical Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China
2AVIC Xi’an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company Ltd., Xi’an 710089, China
3Kunshan Industrial Technology Research Institute Co., Ltd., Kunshan 215347, China

Received 27 March 2015; Accepted 10 August 2015

Academic Editor: Robert Gao

Copyright © 2015 Qiang Fang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Drilling carbon fiber reinforced plastics and titanium (CFRP/Ti) stacks is one of the most important activities in aircraft assembly. It is favorable to use different drilling parameters for each layer due to their dissimilar machining properties. However, large aircraft parts with changing profiles lead to variation of thickness along the profiles, which makes it challenging to adapt the cutting parameters for different materials being drilled. This paper proposes a force sensorless method based on cutting force observer for monitoring the thrust force and identifying the drilling material during the drilling process. The cutting force observer, which is the combination of an adaptive disturbance observer and friction force model, is used to estimate the thrust force. An in-process algorithm is developed to monitor the variation of the thrust force for detecting the stack interface between the CFRP and titanium materials. Robotic orbital drilling experiments have been conducted on CFRP/Ti stacks. The estimate error of the cutting force observer was less than 13%, and the stack interface was detected in 0.25 s (or 0.05 mm) before or after the tool transited it. The results show that the proposed method can successfully detect the CFRP/Ti stack interface for the cutting parameters adaptation.