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B777 Lipskin

Klune provides the lip skin for the Boeing 777 extended range version. This case study features our patented bulge forming and semi-automated polishing process.

Challenge

Historically, large lip skins were assembled by joining three or more segments.  Customers prefers lip skins with fewer segments to reduce their cost and assembly time.  Forming companies steered clear of creating two segment skins because of the high risk associated with material thinning and distortion.  Klune accepted the challenge.  Another challenge was creating a standard to measure the appearance of the polished surface.  This was particularly difficult with large lip skins because of the subjectivity associated with visual inspection and the inherent bright spots/shadows observed on a large curved surface when viewed under various lighting conditions.   

Remedy

Klune designed the bulge form process and built the associated tooling to make the B777 lip skin in two segments.  The lipskins are made in a work cell with dedicated equipment, tooling and personnel.  To solve the surface finish issues, the customer worked with Klune to develop a measurement process and acceptance criteria for the surface finish.  The finishing process has been partially automated using a robotic polisher to ensure consistency in the surface.

Results

The Boeing 777 program has been running at Klune for more than five years.  The cell supports a high build-rate and meets our customer’s challenging quality requirements. The customer’s Material Scientist complimented Klune on their ability to consistently produce this product.  He noted that Klune’s proprietary bulge forming process maintains the material thickness properties better than any other forming process in the industry.  

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