In April 2017, Airbus Americas Engineering opened an engineering center on the Wichita State University (WSU) Innovation Campus.
Airbus Americas Inc. CEO Barry Eccleston said, “The campus provides an environment that fosters faster transition of innovative ideas into real-world uses and value for the company.”
As a campus resident, Airbus engages students in real-world engineering projects to develop critical skills and produce graduates with experience, while also boosting Airbus’ competitiveness.
The company also relaunched the Airbus Foundation Flying Challenge in Wichita, which will help local high school students build an RV-12 kit plane to encourage science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education by mentoring with Airbus employees and Tango Flight, a high-school-focused aerospace training and development program.
Next door to Airbus at the Innovation Campus is Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience Center, developed in partnership with WSU’s National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR). The 22,000ft2 facility establishes an interconnected community of researchers, corporations, and laboratories to accelerate aerospace companies’ ability to innovate – from initial requirements through production – using 3DExperience software and other technologies.
Companies can use the center for advanced product development with access to additive manufacturing equipment, interactive customer collaboration rooms, reverse engineering and inspection scanning capability, a virtual reality immersive 3D simulation room, and a multi-robotics advanced manufacturing (MRAM) lab. www.3ds.com; www.airbus.com; www.niar.wichita.edu; www.tangoflight.org
Arconic Global Rolled Products appoints new president
Eric Roegner, chief operating officer of Investment Castings, Arconic Titanium and Engineered Products, and president of Arconic Defense, has been named president of Arconic Global Rolled Products (GRP). Roegner continues as president of Arconic Defense.
Roegner’s record includes the successful integration of RTI International Metals (RTI), which is now the Arconic Titanium and Engineered Products business unit. Recently, he oversaw Arconic Power and Propulsion, involved in jet engine components. Roegner, who has more than two decades of experience in aerospace, defense, and other industrial markets, is co-inventor of the Ampliforge process, a hybrid technique that combines additive and advanced manufacturing processes. www.arconic.com
Kobe Steel buys Quintus Technologies
In April 2017, Kobe Steel Ltd. acquired Swedish isostatic press manufacturer Quintus Technologies AB from U.S. private equity firm Milestone Partners for $115 million.
An isostatic press (IP) applies equal (isostatic) pressure from all directions to compress and form metal, ceramic, and carbon materials, to manufacture products with uniformity, strength, and durability. A hot isostatic press (HIP) applies high-pressure gas at high temperature. A cold isostatic press (CIP) uses liquid to apply pressure to the material at ambient temperature.
Quintus Technologies has delivered more than 1,800 pressure systems globally for sheet metal forming and advanced materials densification.
By acquiring Quintus, Kobe Steel plans to expand its IP business, benefit from the interchange of product menus and manufacturing efficiency via cost reductions through the joint procurement of parts. www.kobelco.com; http://quintustechnologies.com
Sandvik Machining Solutions names president
Longtime Sandvik Coromant executive Klas Forsström has been named president for Sandvik Machining Solutions and added as a member of Sandvik Group’s executive management. Currently the president of Sandvik Coromant, a global supplier of metal-cutting tools, Forsström also has held managerial positions within Sandvik in research & development (R&D), marketing, business development, and sales. Forsström succeeds Jonas Gustavsson. www.sandvik.coromant.com
NCDMM, America Makes appoint executive director
The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) has appointed Rob Gorham executive director of America Makes, replacing Ed Morris who will be retiring.
Gorham joined NCDMM in February 2013 as America Makes’ deputy director for technology development and has served for the past two and half years as the America Makes director of operations.
Gorham led the development of an additive manufacturing road-mapping methodology and refined America Makes’ project call process, resulting in a $97 million research and development portfolio.
Prior to joining NCDMM, Gorham was the senior manager for advanced manufacturing systems and prototyping at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.’s Skunk Works, in Fort Worth, Texas, (officially called Advanced Development Programs – ADP). www.americamakes.us; www.ncdmm.org
Web Industries opens advanced composite formatting operation
Marlborough, Massachusetts-based Web Industries Inc. is opening a ply cutting and kitting operation within the company’s 225,000ft2 Composites Center of Excellence in Suwanee, Georgia. The facility offers additional risk mitigation and outsourced capacity, supply chain benefits, and delivery of ply-formatted and kitted advanced composite materials.
The facility includes five cutting tables, laser guidance devices, and quality control systems so every ply in a kit is in the correct order. Video systems positioned above the cutting tables provide traceability for every product.
The Atlanta-area CAD Cut ply-cutting and kitting operation offers redundancy by producing the same product as the company’s Denton, Texas, and Montpelier, Vermont, plants and room for expansion. Production takes place in a controlled contamination area (CCA) to ISO 14644-1 Class 8 standard.
Also at the Atlanta facility, a standalone thermoplastic composite development and qualification center is equipped to format thermoplastic carbon fiber prepreg materials, including polyetheretherketone (PEEK), polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) and polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). The facility can also qualify the equipment that will process the thermoplastic composite formats.
Slitting equipment can cut materials into tapes from 1/16" to 1" on a traverse-wound spooling line or 1" to wider than 6" strips for planetary-wound formats. Other machines can chop materials into 1/2" x 1/2" or 1/16" x 1/2" fiber flakes for use in compression molding. www.webindustries.com
Four global megatrends are reshaping tomorrow’s factory, according to a study by Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council (https://goo.gl/y86rFT).
Aligned in encompassing categories – globalization/urbanization/regionalization/ uncertainty, smart/material/open/green, business model innovations, and ambient intelligence – these trends represent the forces that “will prompt manufacturers to rethink not just factory design but how production processes and infrastructure can support a wide range of new opportunities made possible by digitization.”
Digitization should be familiar to Aerospace Manufacturing and Design readers – Big Data, Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) all involve the collection, distribution, and analysis of growing streams of 0s and 1s.
The “Vision 2030: The Factory of the Future” study predicts that in the next 10 to 15 years, the factory will be an integrated hardware and software system “fueled by vast quantities of information from every corner of the enterprise and beyond. Manufacturers will replace large, centralized plants with networks of smaller, more nimble factories that are better able to customize production for specific regions and customers.”
In a recent online post, Jeffrey Moad – research director and executive editor with Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Community and co-author of the study – zeroed-in on aerospace: “Smart, connected products and real-time analytics will allow manufacturers to sell outcomes such as jet engine uptime and not just products. This means manufacturers will need to fundamentally rethink their relationships with customers. It also means they will face an entirely new competitive landscape.”
I asked Moad how he sees this trend extending to other parts of the aerospace supply chain, not just to jet engine manufacturers performing service as part of years-long maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) contracts. He answered that those outcomes- and services-based business models will ripple out, “redefining not just who does the maintenance, but who owns, finances, and takes responsibility for the performance and safety of the asset in the field.”
We’ve seen this outcome model in the growth of leasing companies owning aircraft and centralizing those responsibilities, as well as ride-sharing apps for terrestrial transportation that decentralize ownership and maintenance obligations. Providing positive outcomes will apply to products as well as services.
“The ongoing trend to add intelligence and connectivity to assets in the field will mean all participants in the value chain – not just the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) – will have access to detailed and timely information on how products are used and how they can be improved,” Moad says.
As tier suppliers collect and act on reliable data generated by smart products and analytics, they will be able to understand and respond to end customers’ needs. Translating that understanding into better products and services will require new levels of design, supply chain, and production collaboration.
“Producing to print won’t be good enough anymore,” Moad explains.
I agree with the study’s executive summary: “Many manufacturers will have to undertake significant cultural, organizational, and management changes if they are going to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital revolution.”
Please let me know if you are undertaking such changes to stay on the crest of the emerging digital wave. – Eric
Imagine a sky filled with clean, green, energy-efficient jetliners, powered by electric motors or turbine-electric hybrid engines. Electric storage, distribution, and power technologies are still in their infancy, but recent developments point the way toward this dream.
The experimental Solar Impulse 2 (SI2) demonstrated that a solar-powered, electric aircraft could circumnavigate the Earth – but the slow-flying, high-aspect-ratio wing, single-person vehicle is not a practical model for future air transport. However, the engineering that helped develop SI2 has applications for mainstream airliners.
SI2 completed its journey around the world with the help of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience design software – including the Catia, Enovia, and Delmia applications – for its fuselage, wings, and materials. The Solar Impulse team used 3D modeling of complex structures and composites, digital simulation, and full data traceability to experience the aircraft in its operating environment virtually before it flew.
Michel Tellier, vice president of aerospace and defense at Dassault Systèmes, describes the role software played in the Solar Impulse team’s success, saying, “From an engineering standpoint, the key parameters were optimizing the design for weight. That was a big deal because of the massive wingspan, and to be able to have enough solar cells on it to gather the energy they needed.”
After designing a lightweight structure, it was important to simulate the entire aircraft as a system with all its different components. Using 3DExperience applications for flight-systems integration simulation proved the design’s feasibility.
Managing the human occupant
“For SI2, the focus was on creating an environment where a pilot could live for six or seven days in an unpressurized cabin the size of a phone booth,” Tellier notes.
The flight profile included daily, large swings in temperature. SI2 flew in a long, sustained descent at night and then powered up during the day, charging batteries, and gaining altitude. Tellier says that to accommodate the pilot’s sleep cycles, bodily functions, and exercise needs, the cabin required “a seat that was at the same time a bed, a yoga pad, a flight deck, and a toilet all built into one.”
The process involved kinematics, ergonomics, dynamics, heating, oxygen, volume, area, and space management. The team designed the cockpit in 3D using precise, anthropomorphic software models that could measure fatigue, strain, repetitive stress, vision, and other phenomena.
“With those tools, they could life-cycle each pilot through the mission and optimize the flight deck accordingly, making the package reliable and light,” Tellier explains.
Understanding machine behavior
The round-the-world flight was predicated on having developed a clear understanding of how the machine would behave in a variety of environmental conditions. Software defined a system of systems, integrated in a behavioral model. For example, battery suppliers provided data on battery performance that was integrated into simulation of the control systems, structures, and aerodynamics.
“We were orchestrating all of the different simulations into one,” Tellier says. “Batteries on load from motors, the charge and discharge rate, temperature, amps, voltage.”
By integrating battery data with models of motors, controls, communications, lighting, heating, and power systems, the team could then simulate the flight and use the data to manage the condition of the batteries during flight.
“The flight validates that the simulation has properly described what is happening physically,” Tellier notes. “Your ability to manage the fidelity between the virtual and actual world is what it’s all about.”
Flying over the Pacific Ocean for seven days with no backup systems is dangerous, so another focus of SI2’s flight was on risk mitigation.
“The best means we had to mitigate risk was to massively simulate design, performance, and operation,” Tellier says. “You can’t just take away design elements for weight or add design elements for safety without understanding their impact.”
The tight envelope on safety and performance required data traceability, consistency, and structure.
“That kind of product-life- cycle-management (PLM)-based traceability throughout the whole development process is essential,” Tellier says. “You get a high degree of visibility on why every element is there and the impact of changing any one thing.”
In the past, 20 to 30 software vendors and a systems integrator had to collaborate to make all the software simulations work together – something only the largest original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) could do. The SI2 experience taught Dassault Systèmes engineers a lesson in making their technology widespread, useable, and affordable.
“It was interesting to see if we were succeeding in making the state-of-the-art available to small operations,” Tellier explains. “The Solar Impulse team did amazing feats of engineering with a small crew, and the results are proven by the success of their mission.”
Tellier calls it the democratization of the technology. It’s no longer necessary to be part of a major OEM to be state of the art. If you have an idea, you can explore it; you don’t need to have a huge mainframe computer, servers, and information technology (IT) staff.
“Here’s a mission with explorers with limited means and limited capacity, undertaking a gigantic challenge,” Tellier observes. The Solar Impulse team had to approach the aircraft’s development with the idea: “You really want to simulate the heck out of it, because you can’t afford to iterate the design.” It’s also financially prohibitive to have an exhaustive flight test program to find out what didn’t work and redesign it. “They had to get it right the first time.”
Tellier cites another example of the future – Joby Aviation, in California’s Silicon Valley, a small team of designers developing what they hope will be the next generation of personal transport using science from NASA and their own motor designs.
“They are doing some very nice engineering,” Tellier says. “The level of sophistication to which they are using our technology is impressive.”
They’re using the 3DExperience aerospace solution on the cloud.
“Ten years ago, I wasn’t dreaming we’d be doing what we’re doing now,” Tellier explains. “They rent specific capability for the number of people who use it, for the time they use it. By massively shrink-wrapping their usage, we can drive significant economies and make it affordable to them.”
SI2 is the most globally recognized success for new zero-emission aircraft technology, a direction some well-known players are looking to take commercial aviation. Airbus has its E-Fan initiative, which has grown from a small twin-engine, all-electric aircraft in two versions into a more ambitious, hybrid electric-thermal propulsion airplane, the E-Fan Plus.
By advancing the E-Fan demonstrator, Airbus and its partners are hoping to reduce CO2 emissions 75% per passenger kilometer, reduce NOX emissions 90%, and reduce noise by 65% as a step toward the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 environmental protection goals for the air transport industry.
In April 2016, Siemens and Airbus agreed to drive the development of electrically powered flight. Siemens and Airbus will be using the record-setting motor as a basis for developing regional airliners powered by hybrid-electric propulsion systems.
“By 2030, we expect to see initial aircraft with up to 100 passengers and a range of around 1,000km,” says Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at Siemens’ corporate technology central research unit.
Making aircraft electric or hybrid simplifies them, Tellier says. “On traditional aircraft, we have hydraulic, air-driven, and electrical systems piggybacked on one another, all running in triple redundancy. If you move everything to electrical, you are significantly simplifying the architecture. As soon as we get through milestones on weight, capacitance, and batteries, we’re probably going to see an adoption rate that’s going to be very quick because it makes flight easier.”
Dassault Systèmes Aerospace and Defense
About the author: Eric Brother, senior editor of AM&D, can be reached at 216.393.0228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global pressure to deploy more flights, using larger fleets comprised of fuel-efficient, lightweight, aerodynamic, and durable aircraft presents a potential problem when it comes to keeping these aircraft in the air. Higher temperature aircraft engines reduce consumption and operating costs but are more prone to cracking, eroding, and corroding. With the cost of having an aircraft out of operation critically high in terms of cost and inconvenience, alternative maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) methods could provide a solution to this awkward balancing act.
Materials manufacturers are in a quandary. The aerospace sector is increasingly demanding materials and components that can deliver enhanced performance against extreme temperatures and corrosive gases. However, it also places components under extreme operating temperatures and stress, causing them to degrade, eventually leading to a need to quickly access replacement parts.
Super alloys improve component durability under these harsh environments, but they are not wear-resistant through time. It also can be challenging to reproduce replacement parts from super alloy materials at the rate at which aircraft manufacturers are demanding them. Casting and machining individual components can be time consuming and costly in terms of additional aircraft downtime. Pre-sintered preforms (PSPs), a concept introduced to the aerospace market in the early 1990s, can alleviate pressures for MRO companies while allowing for improved dimensional controlling, minimizing the need for post-braze grinding and machining.
The case for PSPs
A blend of super alloy and braze powders, PSPs are increasingly being used for crack repair and dimensional restoration of gas turbine engine components. They can be customized to fit the individual shapes of components and later, tack-welded into place and brazed. The brazing process allows complete components to be heated in a vacuum furnace, reducing distortions and increasing consistency, resulting in a fast, high-quality repair process.
This makes PSPs suitable for restoration projects where various compositions and shapes are required, including curved, tapered, and cylindrical. Traditional welding processes can require a skilled welder to work from five minutes to an hour per each component. Alternatively, when times are shorter, multiple welders are used at considerable cost. In contrast, PSPs enable MRO engineers to create a material with the same thickness as a part that has been welded, and this can be applied in seconds. As many as 200 parts can then be placed in a furnace together, enabling capacity gains with higher-quality finished products.
Alternative MRO solutions
Electron-beam welding, a high-energy-density process, is usually performed in a vacuum enclosure by striking the surface of a material with fast moving electrons – transforming the kinetic energy of each individual electron in the beam into thermal energy in the component. This transformation is suitable for a high percentage of metals for a range of component restorations, but it can only be performed by highly trained and skilled engineers, which, together with the capital costs of the equipment required, can make it expensive. Manual labor used to complete repairs means projects take longer to complete and can be prone to human error, particularly considering electron-beam welding must be completed layer-by-layer.
For components with complex geometries, pre-mixed pastes are often used instead, particularly when filling fatigue cracks. Pre-mixed pastes use a binder to give them a slurry-like consistency. Binders burn off at lower temperatures, resulting in uncontrolled shrinkage and soiling of brazing furnaces and parts. In many cases, additional paste applications and braze cycles are required to fully restore the crack. This creates a longer lead time for projects when compared with using PSPs, and when considering the average shelf life of pre-mixed pastes is six months, this does not offer the same resistance and reliability as many other solutions.
Though widely used, these solutions aren’t always the most successful when dealing with complex geometries, something that makes welding more difficult to achieve. Conversely, PSPs can be used in paste and paint format, making them adaptable to a range of shapes and surfaces, convex and concave. PSPs also eliminate heat affected zone (HAZ) issues often associated with welding, which can result in less distortion and therefore, potential weak spots prone to cracks and damage. After welding, a heat treatment is completed to relieve the stresses that occur with welding. With the PSP process, the furnace cycle can do both the bonding of the PSP and the stress relieving in the same cycle.
With the emergence and growth of PSPs in aircraft MRO, engineers can meet increasing demand for the quick yet robust repair of aero-engine components, to time and costs that component replacement and other methods of repair simply cannot.
Morgan Advanced Materials
About the author: Adam E. Ebert is a business development engineer at Morgan Advanced Materials, Wesgo Metals. He can be reached at 574-400-3075 or email@example.com.