This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in one or more of the following: (1) manufacturing complete aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles; (2) manufacturing aerospace engines, propulsion units, auxiliary equipment or parts; (3) developing and making prototypes of aerospace products; (4) aircraft conversion (i.e., major modifications to systems); and (5) complete aircraft or propulsion systems overhaul and rebuilding (i.e., periodic restoration of aircraft to original design specifications).
US Navy installs Phillips Additive Hybrid metal 3D printing solution on USS Bataan
A hybrid metal 3D printing solution from Phillips Corporation has been installed on the USS Bataan. The system combines Meltio laser metal deposition technology with a CNC control mill from Haas. The solution will be used for the manufacturing of spare parts and repairs on board the Bataan.
Phillips says that the TM-1 platform that is included in the hybrid system has been proven to operate reliably in an afloat environment aboard several aircraft carriers. Integrating additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies within one system increases efficiency and reduces waste when compared with traditional machining according to Phillips.
The US Navy advanced efforts to improve self-sufficiency for deployed ships and their crews, while reducing supply chain lead times by using AM. According to Phillips, this is the first permanent installation of a metal 3D printer aboard a ship.
How a robotic arm could help the US Army lift artillery shells
To fire artillery faster, the US Army is turning to robotic arms. On December 1, Army Futures Command awarded a $1 million contract to Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation to test a robot system that can handle and move artillery rounds.
An automated system, using robot arms to fetch and ready artillery rounds, would function somewhat like a killer version of a vending machine arm. The human gunner could select the type of ammunition from internal stores, and then the robotic loader finds it, grabs it, and places it on a lift. Should the robot arm perform as expected in testing, it will eliminate a job that is all repetitive strain. The robot, lifting and loading ammunition, is now an autonomous machine, automating the dull and menial task of reading rounds to fire.
U.S. Navy Takes Falkonry AI to the High Seas for Increased Equipment Reliability and Performance
Falkonry today announced a big leap for Falkonry AI with the Office of Naval Research deploying its AI applications to advance equipment reliability on the high seas. This AI deployment is carried out with a Falkonry-designed reference architecture using NVIDIA accelerated computing and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s (OCI’s) distributed cloud. It enables better performance and reliability awareness using electrical and mechanical time series data from thousands of sensors at ultra-high speed.
Falkonry has designed its automated anomaly detection application, Falkonry Insight, to take advantage of Edge computing capabilities that are now available for high security and edge-to-cloud connectivity. Falkonry Insight includes a patent-pending, high-throughput time series AI engine that inspects every sensor data point to identify reliability and performance anomalies along with their contributing factors. Falkonry Insight organizes the information needed by operations teams to determine root causes and automatically informs operations teams to take rapid action. By inserting an edge device into the US Navy’s operational environment that can process data continuously, increasingly sophisticated naval platforms can maintain high reliability and performance out at sea.
U.S. Army Awards Taqtile Phase II Contract To Expand Work Instruction Platform For Motor Pool
The recently completed Phase 1 program enabled the Army to validate Manifest’s unique capabilities to support digital transformation of motor pool MRO. Manifest demonstrably empowered personnel to complete complex tasks more safely, more efficiently, and more accurately than was possible with outdated paper-based processes.
“The nature of service in the Army results in a high amount of turnover in its motor pools as soldiers rotate through their assignments,” said Mr. Kelly Malone, chief customer officer, Taqtile. “The expanded use of Manifest with Army personnel will clearly demonstrate that we are uniquely capable of delivering knowledge right to operators and the equipment they’re working on, helping them perform like experts.”
The Connected Soldier
Ukraine to receive 1 million rounds of ammo from Wisconsin factory
This is a thread that will explain the implied poor Russian Army truck maintenance practices based on this photo of a Pantsir-S1 wheeled gun-missile system's right rear pair of tires below & the operational implications during the Ukrainian mud season.🧵— Trent Telenko (@TrentTelenko) March 2, 2022
U.S. Military To 3D Print Its Way Out Of Supply Chain Woes
Additive manufacturing enables the military to produce new products quickly and cost-effectively, on-demand and at the point of need, either at base, at sea, or on the frontlines. It bolsters the lifespan of legacy systems and vehicles that might otherwise be retired.
The Full Potential of a Military Metaverse
A defense metaverse could build on this digital education ecosystem but it would be far more immersive, providing opportunities to draw on some of the mixed-reality advancements in education that are already taking place in the civilian and military worlds. Additionally, a defense metaverse offers the possibility of connecting virtual environments for acquisitions with those used for experimentation or training, allowing acquisitions professionals to quickly test or assess their designs in a virtual world that mimics the future operating environment — all while providing a modicum of operational security that the live environment may not afford. Lastly, a defense metaverse — much like many platforms — should also facilitate technology reusability, helping to drive down costs associated with acquisitions.
New Micro-3D Printing Technique Could Benefit Pentagon
For many pieces of equipment, such as lenses or sensors, there is a trend to make them smaller and smaller, he said. But traditional manufacturing techniques that have historically been used to make the parts don’t scale well and have other limitations. To address this, the company developed a process it calls projection micro stereolithography, he said. The technique allows for the rapid photopolymerization of a layer of resin with ultraviolet light at micro-scale resolution, allowing the company to achieve ultra-high accuracy precision and resolution that cannot be achieved with other technologies, according to Kawola’s slides.
Todd Spurgeon, a project engineer at America Makes, said he sees several ways the technology could be leveraged for the Defense Department. For example, it could be employed for higher-end electronics, circuits, small unmanned aerial vehicles and microneedle arrays for fast-acting medicines.
Anduril nets biggest DoD contract to date: Signifier or outlier for defense start-ups?
Anduril will serve as a systems integrator partner on SOCOM’s counter-unmanned systems efforts. The contract is worth a maximum of $967,599,957 over the next the decade. Under the contract, SOCOM will be able to purchase Anduril’s systems through traditional means, in addition to buying Anduril’s products as a service, meaning the command can configure the system “based on mission profiles and ensuring SOCOM can rapidly adapt to new and evolving threat profiles.”
Anduril has made major strides in the last year positioning itself to win major defense contracts and augment its technology portfolio. Last year, it acquired Area-I, a tube-launched unmanned aerial system maker. Last summer, the company won a five-year, $99 million production other transaction agreement with the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit for its counter-drone tech.
Robots Automate Disassembly of Chemical Weapons
Disarming and disassembling the rockets is not easy, and the task is made even more difficult because of the rocket’s design. The rocket propellant cannot be removed from the warhead without cutting open the rocket, and the propellant itself presents a hazard, because it becomes unstable as it ages. Another danger is leakage of the toxic nerve agents. As sarin decomposes, it forms acids that can corrode the aluminum casing inside the rocket.
Both Ankrom and Staggs have seen first-hand how advancements in chemical weapons destruction now require fewer and fewer people. Ankrom started working with chemical agents in the mid-1980s, recalling how his first project, which focused on a hallucinogenic, was entirely manual and required 15 people. Even as recently as 2014, workers at the Blue Grass depot had to manually separate the warheads from the rocket motors and then separate the fuses from the warheads to support testing at the Anniston Static Detonation Chamber disposal plant, adds Staggs, who has worked with chemical weapons since 1978. “Adding the automation with robots has assisted us with reducing people interaction with these aging chemical weapons,” Staggs says. But the Blue Grass depot’s original disposal system plans, even with its robots, presented problems when workers discovered leaking rockets.
The agency reached out to CRG Automation, an engineering firm best known for building packaging lines for the likes of Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s and Kraft. CRG Automation has been designing and building packaging and processing equipment for the food, beverage and consumer products industries for more than 20 years. CRG Automation developed an alternative method by holding the assembly fixed and making the cut with the rocket in a vertical orientation, ensuring that any leaking chemical agent would simply gather in the bottom of a containment device. Cutting the rockets in an upright orientation also meant that the operation could be done more precisely. The cut can be located with an accuracy of 0.001 inch, Ankrom says. Six-axis robots are used to load and unload the cutting machines.
U.S. Army’s New Expeditionary 3D Concrete Printer Can Go Anywhere, Build Anything
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures (ACES) program is a game changer for construction in remote areas. The project will supply rugged 3D concrete printers that can go anywhere and print (almost) anything. The project started several years ago when concrete printers were very much in their infancy, but even then it was obvious that commercial products would not fit the Army’s needs.
ACES has produced multiple printers working with different industry partners. For example, ACES Lite was made in partnership with Caterpillar under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. It packs into a standard 20-foot shipping container and can be set-up or taken down in 45 minutes, has built-in jacks for quick leveling and can be calibrated in a matter of seconds, making it more straightforward than other devices. Overall the printer resembles a gantry crane, with a concrete pump, hose and a robotic nozzle which lays down precise layers.
The new technology is not magic, as 3D-printed construction is still construction. It does not do everything. A printed building still requires a roof and finishing touches like any other construction work. In areas with good logistics where equipment, labor and materials are all plentiful, there may be little advantage to the ACES approach. But in expeditionary environments, where all these things are likely to be in short supply, ACES could make a real difference.
Additive for Aerospace: Welcome to the New Frontier
Gao, a tech fellow and AM technical lead at Aerojet Rocketdyne, is particularly interested in the 3D printing of heat-resistant superalloys (HRSAs) and a special group of elements known as refractory metals. The first of these enjoy broad use in gas turbines and rocket engines, but it’s the latter that offers the greatest potential for changing the speed and manner in which humans propel aircraft, spacecraft, and weaponry from Point A to Point B.
“When you print these materials, they typically become both stronger and harder than their wrought or forged equivalents,” he said. “The laser promotes the creation of a supersaturated solid solution with fantastic properties, ones that cannot be achieved otherwise. When you combine this with AM’s ability to generate shapes that were previously impossible to manufacture, it presents some very exciting possibilities for the aerospace industry.”
Eric Barnes, a fellow of advanced and additive manufacturing at Northrop Grumman, says “Northrop Grumman and its customers are now in a position to more readily adopt additive manufacturing and prepare to enter that plateau of productivity because we have spent the past few years collecting the required data and generating the statistical information needed to ensure long term use of additive manufacturing in an aeronautical environment… In the future, you may be able to eliminate NDT completely. Comprehensive build data will also serve to reduce qualification timelines, and if you’re able to understand all that’s going on inside the build chamber in real-time, machine learning and AI systems might be able to adjust process parameters such that you never have a bad part.”
Improving the Manufacturing Process Through 3D Printing
The Evolving Geography of the US Defense Industrial Base
Overall, defense contracts have grown more concentrated among fewer locations in the United States. Understanding where the U.S. defense industry is primarily located today offers indications of its connection to broader commercial sectors, whether they be in aviation, information technology, or other areas. The increased concentration of defense technologies and companies in geographic “clusters” could also exacerbate an already troubling divide between the U.S. military and the broader civilian population. Additionally, the changing landscape of the defense industry has implications for congressional oversight, as members of the legislative branch seek, or avoid, roles on key defense committees.
Sparks fly as BAE Systems brings innovation to welding
Funded by the U.S. Government, BAE Systems engineers collaborated with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Wolf Robotics to develop an Agile Manufacturing Robotic Welding Cell customized for aluminum structures that comprise the combat vehicle’s hull.
Prior to welding automation, large aluminum pieces that form the hull were hand-welded together, requiring numerous weld passes at each seam to build the hull. Hand welding requires the welder to hold the weld gun with both hands, pull the trigger to feed wire into the weld joint that creates an arc. The gun is then moved over the metal slowly to create a weld. The number of weld starts and stops in a single seam is based on the length and reach of the welder’s arms. The further a welder can reach, the less he or she needs to stop and start again.
Aerospace, Defense and Industry 4.0
“Designing for manufacturability, modeling the production environment, and then producing our products with a minimum of duplicated effort—this can give us the breakthroughs in speed and affordability that the A&D environment needs in a time of limited budgets and rapidly changing threats,” explains Daughters. “These technologies are an essential component to our ‘digital thread’ across the product life cycle. They give us the ability to simulate tradeoffs between capability, manufacturability, complexity, materials and cost before transitioning to the physical world.”
“In a nutshell, I4.0 involves leveraging technology to better serve the world,” says Matt Medley, industry director for A&D manufacturing at IFS, a multinational enterprise software company. “More than just collecting and processing mounds of data via sensors and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), I4.0 is turning data into actionable intelligence to not only drive efficiency and grow profits, but to also help companies be good stewards of our natural resources and local communities. Aerospace and defense companies whose enterprise software can keep pace with developments like additive manufacturing, AI, digital twins, and virtual and augmented reality (V/AR) are the ones that will thrive in an increasingly digital 4.0 era.”
3D Printing Technologies in Aerospace and Defense Industries
Currently, AI is an integral part of the design process for AM in aerospace. In designing parts for aircraft, achieving the optimal weight-to-strength ratio is a primary objective, since reducing weight is an important factor in air-frame structures design. Today’s PLM solutions offer function-driven generative design using AI-based algorithms to capture the functional specifications and generate and validate conceptual shapes best suited for AM fabrication. Using this generative functional design method produces the optimal lightweight design within the functional specifications.
F-16s Are Now Getting Washed By Robots
The Wilder Systems solution actually leverages technology previously developed for robotic drilling in commercial aircraft manufacturing and converts these components and subsystems into an automated washing system. The main changes have involved the development and addition of robot end-effectors to provide the water and soap spray, waterproofing of the robots themselves, and a robot motion path, which is dependent on the type of aircraft to be cleaned.