Orbital welds take flight

When Cessna Aircraft Company was ready to begin manufacture of its Citation X, the world’s fastest business jet, its engineers were presented with the challenge of finding a way to join the small diameter titanium hydraulic and fuel lines, while maintaining rigorous standards of quality. The Cessna engineers found the solution at Arc Machines Inc., selecting AMI’s Model 9AF-750 orbital welding head and Model 207 power supply. The use of titanium hydraulic and fuel lines is a key weight-saving feature. The Citation X is the first Cessna plane, and one of the first business jets ever, to use this advanced design alternative. The hydraulic and fuel lines on this plane comprise about 700 assemblies between 1/4 and 5/8 in. in diameter, with about 60% receiving a weld on both ends and the rest receiving a weld on one end. The use of titanium lines has created some interesting manufacturing challenges. “When we made the decision to go with orbital welding, our number one concern was to meet the high quality standards that we require on all of our planes… we needed a company that cares as much about quality as we do,â€? said Bill Starnes, Production Superintendent at Cessna. Arc Machines had both the right equipment and a training programme for the shop personnel at Cessna, who had no experience with orbital welding. “This is a very easy machine to operate,” said Richard Stump, Cessna production foreman. “We have developed programs for all of the sizes we need to weld and the operator can easily change to the appropriate program and be pretty certain of producing parts that meet our demanding quality specifications. Over 150,000 welds were produced in five years during the manufacture of the Citation X jet.

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