Some 360 different types of fasteners are used in F-35 construction to secure one surface to another—with thousands of holes waiting to be filled by the right fastener on every airframe. Traditionally, mechanics would mark the required fastener type on the fuselage with masking tape or a felt pen.
To streamline the process, Michigan-based Variation Reduction Solutions Inc. (VRSI) led development of the cutting-edge Fastener Insertion Live Link System, or FILLS. With FILLS, an optical projection technology system illuminates information and instructions directly on the airframe, and a computer interface creates the parts order. This significantly improves efficiency and accuracy, and creates a digital thread from production through repair and overhaul.
The FILLS system will save many millions of dollars for the F-35 and has also been transitioned into numerous other programs—a great example of the many successful innovations enabled by the US Air Force’s SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. For more information, visit afsbirsttr.com.
JSF clearance: JSF17 –341.