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Atlas Cylinder

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When Boeing began testing structural components in its new Boeing 777, they turned to a Northwest company with "the right stuff". Atlas Cylinder, of Eugene, Oregon, produces the hydraulic cylinders that are being used in Fatigue and Static Test (FAST) actuators on the Boeing aircraft.

Before a Boeing 777 ever leaves the ground, it must pass and surpass rigid safety standards. A single failure in a simple structural element of the advanced 777 jet liner could prove to be fatal. Therefore, actuator testing, which finds any structural fatigue or static test problems, is critical.

Atlas Cylinder has designed the FAST (Fatigue and Static Test) cylinder to accommodate the Boeing 777 testing requirements. The FAST cylinder is designed using a parametric software program developed for Atlas Cylinder by The SYNTHESIS Company of Bellingham, Washington.

Four years ago, Atlas Cylinder Division Manager, Frank Bishop, began searching for a way to improve quality, productivity, and response time for their cylinder designs. SYNTHESIS came on board and immediately took on the FAST cylinder design as the first application to be created using parametric technology.

SYNTHESIS is an AutoCAD-compatible parametric program that is used by engineers around the world to maximize design flexibility and engineering precision. The SYNTHESIS user generates a drawing by answering a set of questions specific to their product design. This allows for manipulation of variables not available to the AutoCAD-only user. Once the questions have been answered, the drawing is automatically rendered.

Senior Engineer at Atlas Cylinder, Leonard Burch, was given the task of implementing the SYNTHESIS software. Using the advanced engineering spreadsheet contained in the SYNTHESIS program, automation of design calculations, prompts, and table access were possible. Once the SYNTHESIS program was put into place, input or the design calculations during the preliminary question and answer phase would render seven new drawings per cylinder design. These drawings include: assembly drawing, piston drawing, cartridge retainer drawing, and cylinder identification tag drawing. At the same time, an extremely accurate CNC profile is generated. Mr. Burch has implemented SYNTHESIS and AutoCAD to Atlas's Novell network so that their engineers can share designs.

The engineers at Atlas Cylinder estimate that drawings can now be created in about 50% less time than when they were rendered by AutoCAD alone.

The SYNTHESIS design generated by Atlas also calculates the cylinder weight, and torque of the head screws and retainer screws. The design also generates the complicated seal kit, repair kit part numbers, and cylinder model number. To complete the assembly drawing, a title block and border is rendered by the program.

With the use of SYNTHESIS parametric design software, Atlas Cylinder has been able to create the FAST Cylinder design for the Boeing 777 with accuracy and speed.


By Michelle Greening The SYNTHESIS Company

A one paragraph version of this article appeared in CAE Magazine.