My first experience with additive manufacturing was 10 years ago when I managed a project to develop a 3D-printed, remotely piloted aircraft. Within this program, a 3D-printed parts producer, that mainly printed prototypes at the time, collaborated with a university and an aerospace systems manufacturer.
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Aerospace is an incredibly exacting industry. Everything from design to manufacturing to maintenance must go exactly as planned to keep planes flying safely, and even when they do, mistakes can happen, leading to tragedy.
The well-established field of laser marking continues to break new ground with expanding business opportunities in automotive, oil and gas, medical and other industries.
Metalworking machines are fast, powerful, and accurate, but they weren’t always as capable as they are today. Modern equipment is more nimble, flexible and adaptable. The machines collectively exceed the sum of their parts.
As a provider of automation equipment and software, our company is immersed in this ongoing, revolutionary, data-driven ride, and we’re anticipating a new trend: our customers are not just automating their traditional subtractive methods.
A typical commercial jetliner contains millions of discrete components, yet provided the plane arrives at its destination safely, on schedule, and hopefully without a screaming baby behind them, most of the flying public could care less how any of those parts were made.
Today’s virtual technology enables faster and better product development. Planes, trains and automobiles are defined in CAD, subjected to virtual tests to see how they might fail, re-designed, virtually manufactured and virtually shown to customers to confirm market acceptance.
With more manufacturers and engineers embracing additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, for serial production of functional parts, the demand for and creation of high-performing additive materials continues at a rapid pace.
With much faster processing speeds and higher quality, you might think laser welding would quickly take over the field. But traditional welding hangs on. And depending on who you ask and what applications you consider, it may never go away.
Using lasers to cut metal, especially sheet metal or tubes, continues to show its value. The market is becoming dominated by the newer solid-state fiber laser over its CO2 gas rival. Fiber’s advantages in ease of operation, packaging and efficiency are clear.