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2005 FIN – TFS Unveils Intelligent Fastener Technology

November 19
00:00 2012

2005 FIN – TFS Unveils Intelligent Fastener Technology

June 1, 2005 FIN – Not too long ago, remote-controlled fasteners existed only in science fiction.
In an industry where nearly every manufacturer utilizes at least one machine that’s a half-century old, the fastener world doesn’t see many “revolutionary” products that often.
In April Textron Fastening Systems unveiled its Intevia intelligent fastening system at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2005 in Hamburg, Germany. Developed through a partnership with Chicago-based TZ Ltd., Intevia fasteners feature embedded microchips controlled by radio frequency signals.
In Hamburg, TFS revealed that its first customer for the Intevia security latch is MacCarthy Interiors Ltd, a UK-based aircraft interior design, manufacture, and certification company. MacCarthy is the sole UK supplier of these devices, and is offering the Intevia system as an alternative to electro-mechanical locking systems in first- and business-class stowage units of commercial aircraft. MacCarthy’s global aircraft interiors customers include Virgin Atlantic Airways, British Airways, Emirates, KLM Airlines, and TNT Air-Freight.
According to TFS, Intevia latches operate silently, while a slim profile allows it to mount flush into aircraft monuments. The latch is controlled through a touch-sensitive cabinet door handle equipped with LEDs that indicate the stowage unit door lock-unlock status in real-time.
How It Works
According to TFS, intelligent fasteners are mechanical devices that perform the same functions as traditional fasteners. The difference is that the means of actuation is integrated into the fastener itself.
“The muscle inside intelligent fasteners consists of shape-memory alloys or polymers, or piezoelectronic, magnetostrictive or electrostrictive materials,” explains Assembly Magazine. While the electro-charged materials change shape in response to electronic current, the alloys and polymers respond to heat.
The embedded microchip receives a radio signal that activates the fastener material to change shape and grip a mating part.
According to TFS, Intevia replaces the conventional fastening need for physical contact between tool and fastener. Utilizing the microprocessor, software-driven instructions from a remote tool run proprietary applications software and actuate fastening mechanisms. Intevia fasteners can also be linked to a computer network and central database, expanding their power and ability to document, store, and manipulate data. TFS is marketing intelligent fasteners as “a clean break from the past.”
“By integrating intelligence into the fastener and combining it with remote activation and application-driven software tools, Intevia technology brings a new approach to manufacturing processes,” TFS claims.
Fasteners integrated within a sub-assembly and their component parts could be assembled and remotely locked into position by electronic commands as the production line is moving, TFS explains. There would be no need for assemblies to stop at workstations for traditional mechanical fastening processes.
Because the fasteners are computerized, they can record start and stop times of machine operations, along with who operated the machine and when maintenance was performed.
According to TFS, sensors integrated into Intevia fasteners can detect, analyze and report product performance, wear and tear, and the need for service and maintenance. The system can order replacements for worn out parts, and alert service centers when critical components are under severe stress from overload and due to fail.

How New is the Technology?
“Five years ago I don’t think anyone could have envisioned this technology,” TFS executive vice president Seshu Seshasai told FIN.
Seshasai admits that some buyers are stunned by the capability of Intevia intelligent fasteners.
“They’re excited, and then they’re lost. They wonder, ‘How do we use this?'” he explained.
Seshasai compares the reaction to the delighted bewilderment the business world experienced when personal computers were first introduced.
Seshasai predicted that intelligent fasteners would be so popular among aerospace companies that just about all aircraft will adopt this technology within three years.
Intevia-enabled solutions could allow quick reconfiguration of seat systems in commercial aircraft and business jets by cutting installation and replacement time from 45 minutes to five minutes, TFS states.
Likewise, Intevia intelligent fasteners can be connected to auxiliary sensing devices such as temperature, pressure and humidity sensors, accelerometers, tilt switches, magnetic field detectors, capacitive proximity sensors, and smoke or gas detectors, providing up-to-date information needed to control, audit and manage environmental conditions in aircraft.
For example, a network of fasteners with sensors could instantly alert pilots to unusual fluctuations in pressure or temperature anywhere in the plane.
With features like that, it’s easy to see why the aerospace world is buzzing with possible applications. The automobile market could take longer, due to design lead times.
One application could be automobile air bags, because the fasteners could be hidden within the assembly – a feature that could prevent theft. “Intelligent fasteners can be completely internal to the product, making tamper proof construction a reality,” TFS claimed.
“Security is a definite selling point for this technology,” Seshasai stated.
Internally installed, remote-controlled fasteners could be used in the banking world to simplify security systems.
“It could drastically change how they operate,” Seshasai explained.
“In the next 15 to 20 years, these fasteners could revolutionize almost everything,” Seshasai told FIN.©2005/2012 Fastener Industry News
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