API Services entered into a joint venture with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, NAVSEA and Penn State University to prove the API Tracker3 is a viable method to align catapult systems on the U.S. Navy's Aircraft Carriers. Currently, the U.S. Navy uses a method that requires several lasers and a fixture that rolls down the catapult trough. The current system takes longer than desired to measure the catapult and is subject to errors. The next phase will take place at the U.S. Naval Station in Everett, WA, Oct. 24th - 28th. The catapult is approximately 333 feet long and it will take four Tracker3 laser trackers measuring simultaneously to measure more than 2,000 features in 1.5 hours. The catapult must be measured very quickly to minimize the movement caused by thermal variation.
To prepare for this project, API Services designed a modified stand that allows the laser tracker to be placed 18 inches offset from the center of the stand. The versatility of the API Tracker3 system gives the capability to move the laser tracker to a position that enables a direct line of sight directly below the laser tracker to the catapult trough. The use of laser trackers for alignment will save thousands of dollars per ship and significantly improve cycle time.