Investigation on the countersink errors in the drilling of thin-wall stacked structures


The countersink accuracy is an important quality index in modern aircraft manufacturing industry. However, the wide use of the thin-wall stacked structures with low stiffness brings about complex and diverse countersink errors due to the inevitable stack deformation in the machining process. This paper provides a new insight into the study on the problem of countersink errors including the quantitative exploration of formation mechanism, evaluation method, and influence factors through both theoretical and experimental analyses. The principles and laws of stack deformation, especially the interlayer gap and the interaction features that are peculiar to stack drilling, have been firstly investigated by analytically modeling with Fourier series approach in this study. Then, the formation mechanism and evaluation method of three types of countersink errors are theoretically revealed, and a calculation method is presented based on the stack deformation model. The influence of the machining parameters, such as the original interlayer gap, the cutting force, and the cutting position with different stiffness, on the countersink errors has been quantitatively analyzed in order to provide new potential optimization method for the further improvement of the countersink accuracy. Finally, the theoretical model is verified by multivariate simulations and experiments, and the results show that the proposed model has positive referential significance for the analysis of countersink errors. The work in this paper promotes the understanding of the effect of machining deformation on countersink errors through the fundamental insight and contributes to develop better designs of machining conditions for the stack countersinking process.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17
Fig. 18
Fig. 19
Fig. 20
Fig. 21


  1. 1.

    Cheng H, Li Y, Zhang KF, Su JB (2011) Efficient method of positioning error analysis for aeronautical thin-walled structures multi-state riveting. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 55(1-4):217–233

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Wang H, Zhou MX, Zheng WZ, Shi ZB, Li HW (2017) 3d machining allowance analysis method for the large thin-walled aerospace component. Int J Precis Eng Manuf 18(3):399–406

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Krishnaraj V, Zitoune R, Collombet F (2010) Comprehensive review on drilling of multimaterial stacks. J Mach Forming Technol 2:171–200

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Cheng H, Zhang K, Wang N, Luo B, Meng Q (2017) A novel six-state cutting force model for drilling-countersinking machining process of CFRP-Al stacks. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 89(5–8):2063–2076

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Mueller P, Atarsia A, Wiemann A (2013) One shot dry drilling of composites/aluminium hybrid stacked materials in IT8 quality. SAE technical paper 2013-01-2337

  6. 6.

    Brinksmeier E, Janssen R (2002) Drilling of multi-layer composite materials consisting of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (cfrp), titanium and aluminum alloys. CIRP Ann Manuf Technol 51(1):87–90

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Gao Y, Wu D, Liang X, Ma X, Chen K (2018) Evaluation and reduction of the non-coaxiality in stack drilling using the pre-installed fasteners. J Manuf Process 34:40–50

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Shyha IS, Soo SL, Aspinwall DK, Bradley S, Perry R, Harden P (2011) Hole quality assessment following drilling of metallic-composite stacks. Int J Mach Tool Manu 51(7):569–578

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Zhang L, Liu Z, Tian W, Liao W (2015) Experimental studies on the performance of different structure tools in drilling cfrp/al alloy stacks. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 81(1–4):241–251

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Montoya M, Calamaz M, Gehin D, Girot F (2013) Evaluation of the performance of coated and uncoated carbide tools in drilling thick CFRP/aluminium alloy stacks. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 68(9–12):2111–2120

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Park KH, Beal A, Kim D, Kwon P, Lantrip J (2013) A comparative study of carbide tools in drilling of CFRP and CFRP-Ti stacks. J Manuf Sci E-T ASME 136(1):014501

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Ma X, Wu D, Nan C, Gao Y (2015) Quantitative analysis and improvement of countersink depth in stack drilling. ASME 2015 International mechanical engineering congress and exposition (IMECE2015-50872). ASME Tech Paper

  13. 13.

    Liu H, Zhu W, Dong H, Ke Y (2017) A helical milling and oval countersinking end-effector for aircraft assembly. Mechatronics 46:101–114

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Atkinson J, Hartmann J, Jones S, Gleeson P (2007) Robotic drilling system for 737 Aileron (no. 2007-01-3821). SAE Tech Paper

  15. 15.

    Ma X, Wu D, Gao Y, Liang X, Huang S, Dong Y (2017) An approach to countersink depth control in the drilling of thin-wall stacked structures with low stiffness. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 95(1–4):785–795

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Tian W, Hu J, Liao W, Bu Y, Zhang L (2016) Formation of interlayer gap and control of interlayer burr in dry drilling of stacked aluminum alloy plates. Chin J Aeronaut 29(1):283–291

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Liang X, Wu D, Gao Y, Chen K (2018) Investigation on the non-coaxiality in the drilling of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic and aluminium stacks. Int J Mach Tool Manu 125:1–10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Yang H, Chen Y, Xu J, Fu Y, Xu C, Zhang Y (2017) The effect of clamping force on the inter-layer gap formed in stacked material drilling. J Harbin Institute Technol 49(11):1–8 [in Chinese]

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Gao Y, Wu D, Nan C, Ma X, Dong Y, Chen K (2015) The interlayer gap and non-coaxiality in stack drilling. Int J Mach Tool Manu 99:68–76

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Liang J (2013) The formation and effect of interlayer gap in dry drilling of stacked metal materials. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 69(5–8):1263–1272

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Manohar K, Hogan T, Buttrick J, Banerjee AG, Kutz JN, Brunton SL (2018) Predicting shim gaps in aircraft assembly with machine learning and sparse sensing. J Manuf Syst 48:87–95

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Zhang Y, Wu D, Chen K (2019) A theoretical model for predicting the CFRP drilling-countersinking thrust force of stacks. Compos Struct 209:337–348

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Timoshenko S, Woinowsky-Krieger S (1959) Theory of plates and shells, 2nd edn. McGraw-Hill, Singapore

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Zhang Y, Wu D, Chen K, Hu K (2019) Prediction and compensation of countersinking depth error in drilling of thin-walled workpiece. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 1–15

  25. 25.

    Gao Y, Wu D, Dong Y, Ma X, Chen K (2017) The method of aiming towards the normal direction for robotic drilling. Int J Precis Eng Manuf 18(6):787–794

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Gao Y, Wu D, Nan C, Chen K (2015) Normal direction measurement in robotic drilling and precision calculation. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 76(5–8):1311–1318

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Gong M, Yuan P, Wang T, Yu L, Huang W (2012) A novel method of surface-normal measurement in robotic drilling for aircraft fuselage using three laser range sensors. IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics

Download references


The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from both the National Nature Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51575306) and the State Key Laboratory of Tribology of China (Grant No. SKLT2019B06).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dan Wu.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhang, Y., Wu, D., Gai, Y. et al. Investigation on the countersink errors in the drilling of thin-wall stacked structures. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 108, 2497–2514 (2020).

Download citation


  • Countersink errors
  • Deformation
  • Interlayer gap
  • Thin-walled stack