Additive manufacturing holds potential for many possible new frontiers in the aerospace industry, and manufacturers in aviation and space flight are reaching for those new vistas. But they’re held back at less than warp speed due to a lack of awareness, unmet technological needs and the absence of a formal regulatory process in their highly regulated industry.
The list of aircraft parts now being made with composites has grown longer than a TSA screening line: the fuselage, empennage (tail section), wings (including skins, stringers, spars, clips, and wing boxes), nacelles, control surfaces (ailerons, flaps), nose skin, and even floor beams.
While still a tiny fraction of the aerospace composites market, the use of metal-matrix composites (MMCs) and ceramic-matrix composites (CMCs) in engine parts has grown substantially over the last few years because they can run at higher speeds and handle more heat.
Manufacturing operations depend on getting the right information at precisely the right moment, ensuring that products get built on time, to quality specs. With the latest enterprise resource management (ERP) software, this critical data flow is often coming via the cloud, as more manufacturers become comfortable with it as a repository for key manufacturing information.
By Patrick WaurzyniakContributing Editor,SME Media
Thread milling, a fundamental metalworking process to create threads, is often the operation of choice when working with difficult-to-machine materials, such as titanium, tool steels, stainless steels, hardened steels and other superalloys.
Known for being a universal and quick process, tapping is the process of making threads in previously drilled holes, and in most cases a tapped hole can be created faster than when using a thread mill. Tapping can generally thread deeper holes in harder materials and any type of machine—a lathe, mill, or drill press—can be used.
Beware predictions of the demise of any technology. If the early 1920s saw the dawn of the optical comparator, there has been much speculation about its sunset. That was especially true when vision systems started hitting their stride a few years ago. Many could see optical comparators were superfluous with the use of vision systems. Many thought the sunset of optical comparators was imminent. Many were wrong. Why?
As a specialist in aerospace machining parts and assemblies for aerospace and military applications, Next Intent Inc. is accustomed to earth-exiting challenges. An early one came in 2000, when the shop gained a contract to make the wheels and other components for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers—Spirit and Opportunity.
PERFECT-3D might not appear to be an acronym, but it is, standing for Process Enabled Repeatability For Extended Life & Consistent Tools. PERFECT-3D’s process for 3D printing of ceramics for complex components resulted from the collaboration of its parent company, Renaissance Services Inc. (Fairborn, OH), with the US Department of Defense, a major investment casting company, a large chemical company, and an aircraft engine manufacturer.
Toner Machining Technologies’ specialty is designing and building hydraulic workholding fixtures for high-volume parts production on CNC machining centers. Programmer/machinists rely heavily on Mastercam from CNC Software Inc. (Tolland, CT) for CAM programming to keep up with numerous low-volume production schedules, while continuing to meet strict dimensional tolerance requirements.
The way products and services are created and delivered is always changing. In the past, the pace of that change was relatively slow and organizations had plenty of time to adapt to and plan for new ways of doing things.
Alan Rooks - Editor in Chief, Manufacturing Engineering
Aerospace and defense manufacturing is known for its complex designs, continual changes and the need to negotiate tight margin requirements. At Elite Aviation Products (EAP), a division of Elite Aerospace Group (Irvine, CA), we face these challenges every day.
Stuart Weiler - Director of PLM, Elite Aerospace Group
My original intention for this column was to discuss a phrase getting a lot of buzz lately, artificial intelligence (AI). By any measure, interest in AI is expanding exponentially, both in the number of articles one can read on the subject and, according to Google Trends, the number of searches for those articles.
Bruce Morey - Senior Technical Editor, SME Media
Should the US Copyright Office oversee whether 3D printer operators can use feedstock not approved by their machine’s maker to turn out medical devices or airplane parts, or is that the role of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), respectively?
Machining aerospace materials is a challenging task. Not only are machining operations tightly controlled, a wide variety of workpiece materials are employed, including aluminum, titanium, and carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs). The following is a brief guide to cutting tool options for successful machining of airframe components. All of the tools referenced are manufactured by Mitsubishi Materials.
Barry Griggs - Assistant Business Development Manager-Cutting Tools, Mitsubishi Materials
According to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., “The way we look at manufacturing is this: The US’s strategy should be to skate where the puck is going, not where it is.” Cook’s quotation reflects a good strategy for any individual, company or organization looking to be competitive in a future marketplace.
Louis C. "Lou" Dorworth, Abaris Training Inc. and 2018 SME Member Council Representative
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC; Urbana, IL) has a long, distinguished history and tradition in mechanical and applied engineering sciences, and the university will soon celebrate the opening of a long-planned, multi-million-dollar expansion to its Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) building.
Patrick Waurzyniak - Contributing Editor, SME Media
I’m among the first to dive into the latest manufacturing innovations and see how they can improve our customers’ operations. Yet, I’m also among the first to advise them to pause and ensure that the fundamentals of their manufacturing processes are in place before adding something new into the complex mix of functionality and desired outcomes.