business technology; nasa\'s gargantuan riveter

by:ZHENHUA     2020-03-24
1987 This is a digital version of an article from The Times Print Archive, before it starts online in 1996.
To keep these articles as they appear initially, the Times will not change, edit, or update them.
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There are some wonderful machines under number 43.
The acres of the NASA Michoud assembly building.
Martin Marietta, in order to fulfill the contract to assemble the shuttle fuel tank, which is nearly 28 feet in diameter and is about half the length of the football field, developed a large welder, which it calls the world\'s largest washing machine, recently, large rivets different from other countries in the industrial world.
Last time, many Americans thought of rivets, the process of connecting metal plates by creating a second head at the other end of the bolt with pressure, which was a task for Rossi, the brave symbol of female factory workers during World War II. The 200-ton, 38-foot-
The high automatic rivets installed here are priced at about $6 million, which is more powerful than the warm-hearted rivets.
NASA with rivets;
Gemcor Systems Corporation in Buffalo built it and patented the design, which its operator Martin Marietta called TO6A 7398 drive rivets, or 7398 (Its tool number)for short.
Unfortunately, last summer, when the shuttle fuel tank production activity was fully launched, 7398 people were ready to be on duty. time low.
Martin Marietta was forced to ask if this giant rivet worker could do anything other than the work it designed, and so far the answer doesn\'t look good.
Unlike traditional rivets, the parts to be fixed together are inserted horizontally, and the 7398 is set vertically.
This feature makes it high-
High quality rivets on large curved parts.
The ad, Thomas Spellar Sr said, \"We \'ve been wanting to make a vertical rivet since 1970s \".
The chairman of Gemcor is also a leading expert in rivets.
\"From the beginning of the space shuttle project, we beat on their doors.
There are two computers designed by gemors.
Controlled head moving up and down the tank panel.
The head automatically obtains the right tool from 12 drill bits and 6 steel rings.
They drill holes, measure the diameter, and automatically enter the appropriate-size rivet.
According to modern automation standards, a network of three programmable controllers, two computer digital controls, visual systems, and control panels allows four workers to operate 7398, not particularly complex.
But it took nearly three years and 2,000 pages of drawings to build 7398.
Writing software that controls its operations is a daunting challenge.
Although 7398 is the beginning of pain
Martin Marietta says that when it works on the first tank, it will soon be able to drive 4,000 rivets into the panel of the intermediate tank in two days
The fuel tank is in the strength part between the liquid oxygen and the liquid hydrogen tank, and the rest of the shuttle is connected to that part.
It will take four to six weeks.
In addition to saving time and reducing labor costs by nearly twice
Higher output of 7398
Martin Marietta said that high-quality rivets should reduce the cost of rivet materials by 80%.
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But what else can it do?
Marietta has been asking herself since the spring of 1986, long before the 7398 car was ready to launch its first rivet.
When Gemcor was authorized to start building the device in Buffalo in 1983, NASA expects Michoud\'s workload to reach 60 units per year as the shuttle program progresses.
By 1986, when 7398 reassembled at Michoud, the productivity of the fuel tank was 12 vehicles per year, and the optimistic outlook for the foreseeable future required doubling that number.
On January, the Challenger exploded. 28, 1986.
Today, NASA is buying fuel tanks at 4 vehicles per year in order to provide minimal support for Martin Marietta\'s operations here --
And a network of subcontractors from 48 states.
Martin Marietta is trying to find ways to maintain its precision machinery and the remaining 3,700 highly skilled workforce.
Marietta has been engaged in missile welding for the company\'s Denver division.
It also leaves some employees busy developing a way to apply the thermal coating used on the shuttle fuel tank to the fuel tank of Marietta\'s target missile in Orlando, Florida.
The Navy is forming a department.
But the company said it had not found anyone interested in talking about rivets.
Advertising is customized.
\"Build and design for an app,\" says Daniel J . \"
Ferrari, an expert in marketing planning for the project development group.
According to Martin Marietta, 7398 can currently easily complete some of the tank-to-tank rivets being carried out by shuttle subcontractors.
But the company suspects that the only external contract work that the rivets may attract is the work of a missile or aircraft body.
It is not clear how much adaptation work 7398 needs to do.
In addition, Martin Marietta admits that finding work from other manufacturers is not the top priority for rivet manufacturers.
The company would rather see rivet workers working on the space station, the next major project for NASA.
Martin Marietta competes with Boeing as the main contractor for the station\'s work and living space.
These companies hope to hear soon who won.
At the same time, the 7398 station as a doubleedged symbol.
It may open doors for a new generation of rivet systems to make aerospace manufacturers more efficient and competitive.
Gemcor says the next unit can be built for two peopleThe cost is too high.
Even if no other use of 7398 is found, the quality gains it offers may be invaluable to those working in space.
On the other hand, the trend of aerospace construction is to stay away from the metal, but to the carbon composite rivets combined by the adhesive.
Critics say significant spending on space and military projects has diverted resources from technology development projects that can help industry more effectively and directly, and they may think 7398 is inflexible
A version of this article was printed on page D00004 of the National edition on November 25, 1987, with the title: commercial technology;
NASA\'s massive rivet crew
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