Since 2003, when the last Concorde was withdrawn from service, there has been no commercial supersonic transport (SST) to whisk well-to-do passengers across the Atlantic. That could change within a few years, as several companies – Aerion Corp. (https://www.aerionsupersonic.com), Boom Aerospace (https://boomsupersonic.com), Spike Aerospace (http://www.spikeaerospace.com) – are developing supersonic business-jets and 55-seat jetliners for transoceanic routes because
One SST effort hopes to find a way around the ban. NASA, in partnership with Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, seeks to advance quiet supersonic technology (QueSST) that reduces the objectionable sonic footprint generated by surpassing the sound barrier. The goal is to reduce noise levels heard on the ground from a boom as loud as a chainsaw (105dB) to a gentle bump no louder than a dishwasher (65dB). An acceptable noise level would allow the supersonic ban to be lifted, opening new markets over land and water with aircraft that can cut travel time in half.
Construction has started on the X-59 QueSST test aircraft, also known as the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/products/quesst.html). Engineers have been working on preliminary designs for the X-59 since 2016, trying to minimize its noise signature.
I learned more about these efforts during an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) distinguished lecture at the Ohio Aerospace Institute given by NASA Glenn Research Center’s Ray Castner, an aeronautical engineer specializing in propulsion (engine nozzles, specifically). I was surprised to learn that despite all the advances in computational analysis and airflow simulation, there is still a solid need for wind tunnel work. Castner and his team tested a stainless-steel model that filled NASA Glenn’s 8ft x 6ft supersonic wind tunnel to validate assumptions about air flow around the engine inlet. Positioning the engine above the wing distributes the shock wave, reducing sharp pressure changes that create loud sonic booms. Castner says that so many factors influence air flow – the fuselage, canards, wing, conventional and T-tail – that testing an inlet in isolation would not do. Only testing the complex aerodynamic shapes together would give meaningful results. The team tested 50 flight configurations and angles of attack for aerodynamics (some with flaps extended, rudder deflected) and two inlet designs, measured with 40 probes. The researchers discovered that small vanes – vortex generators – added to the fuselage aft of the canopy were critical to managing air flow into the engine inlet.
The team used computational analysis, but Castner emphasized, “The only way to get the integrated inlet effect was to use the wind tunnel.”
Test results from the single-engine X-59 may not apply directly to a twin-engine design necessary for commercial operations, but they are a start in finding a way to reduce prohibitive sonic booms to barely noticeable bumps and return SSTs to the skies. – Eric
Multi-spindle, 5-axis machine tools feature integrated robotic loading and unloading, plus vertical pallet storage for workpiece blanks and finished parts. The high-speed, high-precision machining centers, incorporated into plug-and-play manufacturing cells, decrease commissioning time.
The cells consist of dual-spindle SW BA 222 or BA WO2-22i machining centers and a 6-axis robot. Delivered as a crane-hook system for straight forward installation and setup, the robot is mounted overhead for increased freedom of motion and the pallet storage unit is set off to the side, allowing manual loading and unloading.
All mechanical connections – including coolant return, swarf conveyor, and electrical installation – are made before the cell leaves the factory.
SW North America
Compact 30° head
The Zayer 30° head is smaller and lighter than the typical, boxy 5-axis twist head, improving flexibility, accuracy, and strength. Suitable for positioning and continuous applications, it can reach tight spots, including negative 30° angles.
The head can also return to its home position after an accidental crash, allowing the operator to resume work almost immediately. Available with the option of an electro spindle, the head can reach speeds up to 24,000rpm while producing the same force as that of a traditional 5-axis twist head.
It maintains its precision and cutting strength in the unclamped position, and the turning point of the cutting tool allows for more accuracy because it can adjust to the geometry of the surface being machined. The head is standard on Zayer bed, bridge, gantry mills, and traveling columns. Lagun Engineering is the U.S. representative of Zayer.
Updated CAM software
hyperMill 2018.2 CAM software includes enhancements for 3D milling and roughing. Automatic face extension, used during CAM programming, automatically extends selected milling surfaces, eliminating manual CAD work and improving corner cuts. Modules also support conical barrel cutters in addition to general and tangential cutters.
Programming ease and flexibility in defining special tools improve in 3D Optimized Roughing as the system recognizes and accounts for free tool geometries. Software can define different allowances and adapt the machining process accordingly. High-feed cutters have a special, easy-to-define cutting geometry, and hyperMill uses the free geometries of the cutting tool edge for calculation, simulation, and collision checking.
Open Mind Technologies
Airbus SE has appointed Christian Scherer, 56,
“With Christian Scherer, we see one of our most customer-focused leaders at the commercial helm of Airbus. I greatly value his international mindset, his strategic vision, and tremendous commercial expertise,” Enders said.
Scherer, CEO of regional aircraft manufacturer ATR (a joint venture of Airbus and Leonardo) since October 2016, held many senior management positions within the group. At Airbus, where he started his career in 1984, he was head of contracts, leasing markets; deputy head of sales; and head of
Mitsui Seiki marks 90 years
Precision machine tool builder Mitsui Seiki celebrates its 90th anniversary this fall. The company offers expertise in machining hard metal aerospace parts in jet engines and structural components.
“Looking back on our history, the foundation of precision measurement – gage blocks – were among our first products,” said Robb Hudson, CEO of Mitsui Seiki USA Inc.
In 1928, the company manufactured measuring devices, including gage blocks and micrometers. By 1935, the company developed its first jig boring machine. Industrialists referred to it as Japan’s first mother machine because other machine tool builders used it to make their critical precision components. The company continues to design and build jig borers, jig grinders, 3-, 4-, and 5-axis CNC vertical and horizontal machining centers – including hybrid variations – and internal and external thread grinders.
Tetsuji Okuda, president of Mitsui Seiki Kogyo Co. Ltd. in Japan, looks upon this milestone anniversary as an opportunity to focus on internal reformation to continue to raise quality, productivity, and reduce lead times from the headquarters factory, located on the outskirts of Tokyo.http://www.mitsuiseiki.com
Northrop Grumman expands in Ohio, Utah
Northrop Grumman Corp. recently opened a new area of its Beavercreek, Ohio, facility, reaffirming its intent to add manufacturing jobs at the site to produce advanced aerospace and defense composite structures, including high-temperature composites for the U.S. military.
“Northrop Grumman has expanded our operations in Beavercreek and grown our aerospace workforce at this site by more than 50% since early 2017. This has been possible through the development of advanced technologies and innovation by our team, coupled with partnerships with the state of Ohio and the Greene County Community Improvement Corp.,” says Wendy Williams, vice president
The 154,000ft2 Beavercreek facility has more than 140 employees.
The company also added 30 new jobs in 2018 at its composites manufacturing facility in W. Valley City, Utah, with the goal of adding 100 total jobs during the next several years. The re-purposed 90,000ft2 facility will accommodate manufacturing programs using proprietary automated forming processes for high-rate production of dimensionally precise composite aerospace structures.http://www.northropgrumman.com
WFL Millturn acquires automation specialist FRAI
FRAI, founded in 1984, focuses on machine tool automation solutions, primarily gantry robots and cells with articulated robots.
The office and production will remain in St. Konrad. FRAI’s CEO and founder Friedrich Aitzetmüller will stay on for a smooth integration before he retires. WFL Millturn Technologies and FRAI already have a long-standing partnership.
“Automation solutions have a high importance to many of our customers or are in several cases a prerequisite for an order. We see this expansion of our automation competence and individual automation solutions as a significant success factor,” says Norbert Jungreithmayr, CEO of WFL Millturn Technologies.
The Office of Naval Research and Lockheed Martin are exploring ways to apply artificial intelligence to train robots to oversee and optimize 3D printing of complex parts.
The two-year, $5.8 million
“We will research ways machines can observe, learn, and make decisions by themselves to make better parts that are more consistent, which is crucial as 3D-printed parts become more common,” says Brian Griffith, Lockheed Martin’s project manager. “Machines should monitor and make adjustments on their own during printing to ensure that they create the right material properties during production.”
Researchers will apply machine learning techniques to additive manufacturing (AM), so the robot can monitor and control variables during fabrication, machines to optimize structures based on
The research team will vet different internal microstructures in additive builds, measuring machine performance to align microstructures with material properties. With this information, machines will make decisions to print a part that ensures good performance.
The team is starting with titanium alloy Ti-6AI-4V and integrating related research with seven industry, national lab, and university partners.
“When you can trust a robotic system to make a quality part, that opens the door to who can build usable parts and where you build them,” says Zach Loftus, Lockheed Martin Fellow for additive manufacturing. https://www.onr.navy.mil; http://www.lockheedmartin.com
Sciaky provides EBAM system to FAMAero
Sciaky Inc. will provide an electron beam additive manufacturing (EBAM) system to Future Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace (FAMAero), a privately-owned metal 3D-printed parts bureau in Fenton, Michigan. FAMAero will use the system to offer large-scale 3D-printed parts and prototypes.
The custom-made, production metal 3D printer will have a nominal part envelope of 146" x 62" x 62" (3,708mm x 1,575mm x 1,575mm), producing metal parts more than 12ft (3.7m) long. EBAM offers gross deposition rates ranging from 7 lb to 25 lb (3.18kg to 11.34kg) of metal per hour. https://famaero.com; http://www.sciaky.com
Bosch Rexroth, BigRep partner on 3D printing, Industry 4.0
BigRep is equipping its large-scale, thermoplastic filament 3D printers with Bosch Rexroth CNC control systems and drives, putting Industry 4.0 connectivity and data into additive manufacturing.
BigRep CEO Dr. Stephan Beyer says, “BigRep is the first to integrate CNC-grade control systems in 3D printers. The Rexroth controls are also an excellent platform for providing our 3D printers with full connectivity for existing production and automation systems. This will establish 3D printing as a key Industry 4.0 application.” https://bigrep.com; https://www.boschrexroth.com
SwRI engineers use SLM to develop small turbine
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) engineers are developing a cooled, radial gas turbine for a small generator that can provide thousands of hours of electricity to an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a significant improvement to current UAV turbines that only operate a few hundred hours before wearing out.
“The hotter the turbine gets, the better its performance,” says David Ransom of SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division. “But these smaller turbines can’t survive the temperature, so we’ve designed one that has tiny airflow passages that cool the turbine.”
To create the small, intricate design with internal air passages, engineers are using a selective laser melting (SLM) machine that builds metal parts layer by layer.
To leverage the capability of the SLM machine, the SwRI Advisory Committee for Research launched the Metals Additive Kickoff Emphasizing Research Synergies (MAKERS) program, an internal research