Why Additive Manufacturing Works for the Aerospace Industry

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

The aerospace industry is leading innovation in additive manufacturing on several fronts, including applications, materials, processes and design.

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, may be well-suited to the aerospace industry, as long as the technology is certified and the cost comes down. This industry needs to make complex parts in low volumes from high-performance materials, while constantly seeking new ways to lower costs. While AM can cost more than traditional machining methods, it provides savings on materials—which can be substantial when using expensive metals such as titanium.

“There has recently been a real tectonic shift in the way large aerospace companies are investing in additive manufacturing,” says Kamran Mumtaz, lecturer in additive manufacturing at the Centre for Advanced Additive Manufacturing at the University of Sheffield, U.K.

Here are some areas of innovation:

NEW APPLICATIONS

AM originally was used to make plastic models and prototypes for basic form and fitting applications, but not for functional testing. Then AM was used to make plastic parts for functional applications. “More recently, it has been used for brackets, ventilation ducts and parts to hold wires and cables in place,” says Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates, a Fort Collins, Colorado, AM consulting firm. “Now, more parts are being made of metal AM, and I have seen no fewer than 25 new and innovative designs from one major aerospace company, alone,” he says.

Aircraft Turbine“With traditional manufacturing, many parts must be assembled from smaller pieces, because of the limits on what shapes can be cast, milled or molded,” Mr. Wohlers explains. “The technique of building in layers allows for parts to be combined digitally that could include 20, 50 or 100 parts into one, two or three parts,” he says. Fewer parts means big savings in expensive manufacturing processes, assembly, labor, inventory and maintenance, he says, adding that companies also are seeing a reduction in certification paperwork, because each part must conform to the strict requirements of regulatory agencies.

IMPROVED MATERIALS

Polymers, or plastics, are the most mature technology, but titanium 6-4, which can be difficult to grind or weld, is the most popular because of how well it works in AM, along with aluminum, nickel, stainless steel, and cobalt chrome.

New materials would require going through a qualification process, which takes several years. However, researchers are looking at feed stocks, optimal particle sizes and recyclability of leftover powder, says Bill Peter, director of the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The laboratory recently made the largest 3D-printed component, which wasn’t a plane part but a trim tool to make the extended wing section of the new Boeing 777X. Traditionally made of metal, the AM tool was made of a composite of polymers with chopped carbon fiber. The AM tool is faster and cheaper to make than a metal one, Dr. Peter says.

Work is being done on AM composites that can withstand high pressures and temperatures as high as 176°C (350°F). “It would have tremendous savings for tooling in the composite industry for air applications,” he says. “Eventually, we want to understand how to bring the best materials to a problem set and come up with hybrid solutions,” using metals, polymers and ceramics.

AM makes it possible to alter microstructures as the materials are processed, which can affect their strength and flexibility. For example, one AM company “can blend two or more polymers and, consequently, can make one location of a part rigid and gradually transition to soft and elastic in another location,” Mr. Wohlers says.

IMPROVED PROCESSES

jet engineThe most common AM method for making metal parts is to lay a bed of powder and to melt it, layer by layer, with a laser or an electron beam, following a programmed design. However, the AM machines remain limited in size, so most of the parts made are small and in limited volumes.

“At Sheffield, we’re developing new manufacturing processes that improve on efficiency, build speed and enhance the properties of the components,” Dr. Mumtaz says. “We have a metallic-powder-bed manufacturing process, called diode-area melting, or DAM, that has the potential to be 10 times faster than conventional selective laser melting.”

Selective laser melting uses a single laser. Increasing speed requires a more powerful laser or integration of multiple lasers. “DAM replaces a single-point laser with up to 20 laser diodes. You can scan an entire powder bed faster,” he says.

The University of Sheffield also is building a 3D printer that uses high-speed sintering of polymers, with an infrared lamp on an inkjet printer, that’s about 100 times faster than laser sintering.

IMPROVED DESIGNS

Topology optimization is the mathematical technique employed to find the best way to “use minimal materials and minimal weight, but fulfill the needs of the part,” Mr. Wohlers says.

When grinding a part, 80% to 90% can be scrap. Additive Manufacturing is the opposite of that: you can do a highly convoluted, complex shape that can reduce materials and weight by 40% to 50% sometimes.”

INTERNET OF THINGS

AM machines are equipped with cameras and sensors to track the fabrication, point by point, including in the middle of a part as it’s being formed. “We’re capturing the information and using data analytics to see what’s going on,” Dr. Peter says.

Eventually, manufacturers would like to incorporate sensors into the parts, to monitor them for temperature, humidity, vibration or other data. However, sensors and metal or polymers are “dissimilar materials—and that makes things complicated,” Dr. Peter says. “While research activities are stepping up in the area of embedded sensors, there is a need for continued research to commercialize.”

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

JEC World 2016 and Dassault Systèmes: Composites Disruptive Technologies

By Yves
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JEC World 2016, the N°1 worldwide Composites Tradeshow which took place in Paris on March 8-10th, 2016 was an exciting opportunity for Dassault Systèmes to connect with Composites users and influencers across Industries.

Either visiting the 3DS booth or attending the Design in the Age of Experience conference cycle, they could discover the value that our 3DEXPERIENCE platform for Composites and Additive Manufacturing provide to their business:

Extend & Strengthen the Composites Value Chain

The 3DS Composites integrated solution is known to span across the entire spectrum of composites product development, from design to analysis and manufacturing on a single virtual platform, with Best-in-class Partner solutions complementing the process. This year, along with our partners Galorath Inc. on the booth and Convergent Inc. across the aisle, we demonstrated further strengthening and extension of this value chain.

Composites Thermal Assessment - CONVERGENT Inc

 Composites Thermal Assessment – (c) CONVERGENT Inc.

For early feasibility assessment at Conceptual Design stage, Galorath showcased a Cost Estimation solution called SEER for Composites, while Convergent Inc. delivered Composites Thermal Assessment in the hands of Designers for quick decision making. Downstream in the process, several Manufacturing Design solutions were proposed to ensure seamless interaction with Shopfloor Systems, including the new Laser Projection Operator role from Dassault Systemes, increased interaction with JETCAM for output to Nesting and Cutting Systems, and Coriolis integrated CATFiber for Automated Fiber Placement.

Laser Projection - DASSAULT SYSTEMES

Laser Projection – (c) DASSAULT SYSTEMES

Drive disruptive technologies for Clean Energy

In line with its mission as charter member of IACMI – Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation – Dassault Systemes is also committed to develop lower-cost, higher-speed, more efficient manufacturing processes for advanced composites.

Composites Thermo-Forming - DASSAULT SYSTEMES

Composites Thermo-Forming – (c) DASSAULT SYSTEMES

Dassault Systemes recently released a dedicated solution for Composites Braiding and showcased during the show the upcoming capabilities for Thermo-Forming. These both position Manufacturing Simulation at the heart of the Design process to provide enhanced Experiences about manufacturability, increased trade-off for design exploration and in fine, to help drive clean energy product development & manufacturing.

Composites Braiding - DASSAULT SYSTEMES

Composites Braiding – (c) DASSAULT SYSTEMES

Enable Industrial Adoption of Additive Manufacturing

We also received a huge interest for our new Additive Manufacturing solution. This integrated value stream from science-based functional generative Design to Manufacturing process and Simulation really aims at solving some of the key challenges slowing down the industrial use case adoption of 3D Printing.

We demonstrated that combining Modeling, Simulation and Optimization in the hands of a Designer, we can remove the traditional barriers and provide huge gains in productivity. And that with digital continuity, from Generative Programming to Manufacturing Simulation & Optimization, we allow to regain control over the Manufacturing process and reach expected quality and repeatability.

Functional Generative Design - DASSAULT SYSTEMES

Functional Generative Design – (c) DASSAULT SYSTEMES

At the heart of Innovation with Partners Ecosystem

As an acknowledgement of this thought leadership, Dassault Systemes received during the event the prestigious JEC World 2016 Innovation Award for its accomplishment on Large-Scale Composites Additive Manufacturing innovation with OAK Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Cincinnati Incorporated.

JEC World 2016 awarded DASSAULT SYSTEMES

JEC World 2016 awarded DASSAULT SYSTEMES 

ORNL, Cincinnati and DS developed a revolutionary platform called Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) which makes possible to 3D-Print large products like the Shelby Cobra in a few hours. Material is added 200 times more quickly than with existing systems and production costs can be cut by 95%.

JEC 2016 award to Dassault Systèmes

For those who missed us at JEC World 2016, you can still connect with Dassault Systemes on these Composites and Additive Manufacturing topics, amongst many more Experiences, during the DESIGN In The Age of Experience event on April 11th-12th, 2016 in Milan. And we will soon make the recording of our JEC conference cycle available on the 3DS Composites Community. Stay tuned …

JEC Americas 2014 in Partnership with CATIA – October 28, 29 in Boston

By Yves
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Dear CATIA Composites Lovers,

JEC Americas 2014 - Boston JEC Americas 2014 will take place in October 28th & 29th in Boston, with the participation of CATIA from Dassault Systèmes.

And we are glad to offer free entry to conference sessions and after-hour events.  Details below.

  • Conceptual Design on October 28th
  • Industrial Sectors on October 29th

Composites design and engineering represent a tough challenge for industries and are a primordial topic to delve into. From material selection to processing methods and structural studies, our conferences will provide in depth presentations as well as specific cases for major industries such as the aeronautics and automotive ones.

The Simulation theme is the focus throughout the whole event, thanks to the Conferences, the Simulation Composite Circle and the Simulation Innovation Awards that will take place.

This event is a great opportunity to take part in networking meetings.

Conferences sessions: great opportunity to meet our 3DS friends and partners

Dr Byron Pipes (Purdue University) and Rani Richardson (Dassault Systèmes) will animate a conference session titled “Changing perspectives in composites design”.

We thanks our friends, technology partners of CATIA solutions, to be speakers on this session:

CompanySpeaker Name*Abstract Title
Collier ResearchCraig CollierRapid Optimization of Composite Structure that Includes Detailed Analysis and Improved Producibility is Now Possible with Hypersizer®
Convergent TechnologiesGoran FernlundUse of simulation to assess Producibility of composites structures during conceptual design
CoriolisOlivier MunauxDesign for manufacture for airframe structure optimization The
NIAR/WSUShawn Ehrstein Nathan ShipleyBest practices for CATIA Composites Design
Purdue UniversityJohnathan GoodsellComposites Design and Manufacturing HUB

For this particular session, we are inviting 5 CATIA users to attend for free. Simply go to the Composites Community and leave us a comment if you would like to attend this event: the first 5 comments will get a free entrance to the event.

To attend whole event register here. Thanks to our partnership with JEC, we will get 30% discount for our users. We will also invite all CATIA Composites users to join the CATIA Composites Community where you will have access to case studies, testimonials and news about our composites solutions.

The Composites Community will be the unique opportunity to communicate with the speakers from the events as they are already members of the community. https://3ds.com/composites-community

Simulation Composites Circle

Further to the success of the Automotive Composite Circle, JEC Composites Group announced the launch of its new networking event entitled “Simulation Composite Circle” (only by invitation) entirely dedicated to Decision Makers interested in the simulation of composites i.e; software developers and end-users.
We are also pleased to invite managers to this after-hours event (go to the Composites Community and leave us a comment if you would like to attend this Circle) which will take place in Boston during JEC Boston (October 28, 2014) from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. This international networking club attempts to bring together the key decision makers, top managers and executives around the state-of-the-art of virtual design, simulation & analyses of composite materials and structures. This platform is dedicated to providing a unique networking opportunity to meet with both peers and future partners, and to share insights and experiences.

Yves

* Speakers Bios:

Craig Collier, P.E. is President, principal aerospace research engineer, and engineering director for Collier Research Corporation. Mr. Collier received his Master’s degree in Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He has over 30 years’ experience in research & development and engineering services as an aerospace structural analyst at NASA Langley Research Center and in industry. He is the Inventor and developer of HyperSizer Software, a tool that provides aerospace stress analysis and sizing optimization, reducing the weight of aircraft and space vehicles, whether designed with composites or metallic materials. HyperSizer optimizes dimensions and layups, reducing structural weight, and creates the stress report for aircraft certification. As co-founder of Collier Research Corporation, Craig manages engineering design, methods, and software development projects and has over 30 technical publications on composite structural analysis and sizing optimization.

Shawn R. Ehrstein is Director of NIAR’s CAD/CAM Laboratory. He has a M.B.A. from Wichita State University and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering. He is specialized in PLM Curriculim Design and research.

Göran Fernlund is the Director of Engineering at Convergent Manufacturing Technologies, who provide software for composites process analysis. He is also the Technical Director of The Composites Research Network and Associate Professor in Materials Engineering at The University of British Columbia. He received a MA.Sc. and PhD in mechanical engineering from University of Toronto has worked with composite materials for over 25 years. For the past 18 years he has been heavily involved in composites process simulation from both the research and the applied, industrial side.

Johnathan Goodsell is the Assistant Director for the Composites Design and Manufacturing HUB and is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, both at Purdue University. He obtained his PhD from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics with Professor R. Byron Pipes in 2013. He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University (2008).

Olivier Munaux is product manager and is one of the original instigators of CADFiber, the fiber placement software commercialized by Coriolis Software. He graduated from Cranfield University with a PhD. in the field of geometric modeling. His experience acquired while working in some major aerospace programs has led him to be a world leading expert in composite structure design optimization.

Nathan Shipley is the Assistant Director of NIAR’s CAD/CAM Laboratory, where he teaches CATIA V5 training courses at Wichita State University and at industry-leading aerospace companies, provides consulting and support around the DS product suite, develops nationally recognized CATIA V5 training manuals and directs the CAD/CAM Lab Manager and Research Associates in their daily activities.  He has worked at NIAR since 2002, previously as the CAD/CAM Lab Manager and as a Research Associate in the CAD/CAM Laboratory. Nathan has a Master of Business Administration and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from WSU.  His software expertise includes CATIA V6, CATIA V5, ENOVIA VPLM and FiberSIM.  He was the recipient of the Top Gun Award at the 2006 CATIA Operators Exchange (COE) Annual Product Lifecycle Management Conference.

 

 



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