Concurrent with the use of tailored materials for specific applications has been the understanding that a product’s design has a significant and measurable effect on manufacturing process cycle times and unit production costs. In order to reliably manufacture and assemble aircraft structures fabricated from composite materials on a cost-effective basis, an environment for virtual assembly production analysis is being developed. Within this environment, members of an aircraft’s integrated product development team can rapidly assess the impact of design decisions on individual assembly operations and overall aircraft assembly in a virtual manufacturing context. Effects related to joint design and component matings are measured based on force and process conditions as well as the types of tooling required for final assembly. By evaluating assembly production impacts early during product design, the costly design-manufacture-redesign cycle is redefined and recast based on the realities of manufacturing process constraints.

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