Posted November 02, 2019 05:29:04A 3-d printer is becoming an integral part of the workforce for aerospace engineers.
It is not a technology, but a process that has emerged from the research of additive manufacturing (AM) and the engineering of additive machines.
Engineers are taking advantage of a tool called additive manufacturing, which means the process of building objects on a 3D printer, creating parts from them and printing them on to a surface is identical to how a machine would do it.
“A lot of the engineering work that engineers are doing now is essentially just the fabrication of parts on the machine, which is not as exciting,” said John H. Lamm, vice president for product strategy and development at Aerojet Rocketdyne (ARA).
The company makes engines for the U.S. military and has built several rocket engines that have been used for space missions.
In fact, Aerojet has had three successful launches of its RD-180 engine since the start of the year.
“It is a huge step forward for us,” Lamm said.
“This is a very important area for us.”
While some aerospace companies are looking to automate their workflows, Aerojet is focused on using AM to make parts on its machines and to deliver them to customers.
“There is an enormous amount of innovation that happens when people collaborate on these systems,” said Mike Lauer, the company’s vice president of engineering.
“We believe that AM will revolutionize the way that we make things,” Lauer said.
The technology is already used to build parts for the aerospace industry.
“If you go to a factory, you’ll see a lot of workers standing there, all doing the same thing,” said Lauer.
“The only difference is that the engineers are working on something completely different.”
Engineers who are using the technology can design parts with a 3d printer, and the machine uses sensors to measure how they move, adjust and shape them.
The printer’s sensors can then determine how to assemble the parts and print them on a surface.
Engineers who use AM for their work will also be able to test the parts in real time.
Aerojet hopes to automate this process as soon as 2018, Lauer added.
The technology has attracted interest from aerospace firms such as Boeing and SpaceX.
However, the technology could also be used for more mundane tasks, such as manufacturing parts for a factory that doesn’t need it.
Engineers will need to keep in mind that, while the technology is used for manufacturing parts, it will also help with other applications.
“The 3D printers themselves can be used to make anything, so we’re looking at building airplanes, robots, ships, ships and aircraft,” Langer said.
Engineers also need to understand how AM will impact their jobs.
“That is the big thing that is most important, but it is also really important to know what happens when you get that machine into a manufacturing process,” Lafer said.NASA uses AM to build space shuttles and astronauts’ suits to keep astronauts and astronauts safe on the International Space Station.NASA wants to have a large number of 3D printed parts on board every spacecraft that goes to orbit.
The company is currently using a large, robotic fleet of 3-axis printers called the Mars Odyssey, and NASA is considering using a similar fleet in future missions.”NASA is using a lot more of this kind of manufacturing than it is of the traditional manufacturing that is in use today,” said Michael C. Johnson, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“You need a lot fewer parts, and that is the major advantage of this technology.”NASA has not been shy about the need for 3D printing on the ISS.
“As we continue to explore the exploration beyond Earth, and our robotic missions begin to reach their destination, it is important that we maintain our robust capabilities to support our mission,” Johnson said.