Curtiss Wright Surface technologies shot peen formed the wing skins for the Lockheed Super Constellation in the early 1950’s. They created the first aircraft with integrally stiffened wing skins. Since that time CWST has formed wing skins for a large number of Commercial Airliners, Business Jets, Military Aircraft and structural panels for Spacecraft. At times design Engineers have had to make concessions in the amount of curvature or material thickness of skins. This was due to the limited amount of strain available from alternative forming processes. The process augments shot peen forming by generating greater depths of induced strain, thereby allowing forming of thicker material sections and extending the degree of curvatures possible. Laser peen forming is helping to advance the use of machined stringers and ribs for integrally stiffened panels which reduces the need for fasteners. All this allows for lighter aircraft with more fuel efficient profiles.
The deeper induced strain and compressive stress achieved by laser peening allows the formation of thicker sections and tighter curvatures. Compared to other methods, laser peening can provide a cost effective alternative for the forming of complex aerodynamic shapes.