Lockheed Martin extends additive manufacturing to key spacecraft components

This text initially appeared within the Oct. 22, 2018 situation of table4 journal.

Engineers and researchers stand close to one of many two metallic laser-deposition machines at Lockheed Martin’s Additive Design and Manufacturing Middle. Credit score: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin’s Additive Design and Manufacturing Middle in Sunnyvale, California, the place the corporate produces army, industrial and civil house expertise, attained a complete security certification.

“We’re the primary UL licensed additive manufacturing facility on this planet,” Servando Cuellar, Lockheed Martin Area Programs engineering senior supervisor, informed table4.

UL, a security consulting, training and inspection agency primarily based in Northbrook, Illinois, printed the additive manufacturing security commonplace, UL 3400, in 2017. It’s designed to assist additive producers meet regulatory necessities and requirements, whereas addressing dangers associated to 3D printing supplies, tools and manufacturing.

To acquire UL certification, a corporation should present all additive manufacturing tools in a facility has been licensed or evaluated by a 3rd occasion and conduct intensive workforce coaching targeted on additive manufacturing course of security in addition to the identification and administration of machines, supplies and hazards. As well as, organizations looking for the brand new certification should monitor amenities to make sure security administration practices stay in pressure.

Lockheed Martin’s Additive Design and Manufacturing Middle, a 629-square-meter facility, opened for enterprise Sept. 17. The corporate created the ability to bridge the hole between supplies analysis and manufacturing, and produce satellite tv for pc elements extra rapidly and at decrease value, Cuellar mentioned.

“It’s a reasonably wonderful expertise,” he mentioned. “I don’t suppose we perceive the constraints or all the chances.”

Within the final decade, house corporations have additively manufactured more and more advanced spacecraft elements, beginning with small brackets and progressing to giant and demanding elements.

Whereas the aerospace primes deal with additive manufacturing to chop prices and save time, many startups are constructing companies round 3D printing.

Rocket Lab of New Zealand and america prints all main elements of its Electron rocket’s Rutherford engine. Relativity Area of Los Angeles plans to additively manufacture complete launch automobiles. Additive Rocket Company of San Diego {couples} additive manufacturing with generative design, the place laptop algorithms check designs to search out the optimum resolution. Launcher of Brooklyn, New York, is check firing a 3D printed copper alloy engine.

Lockheed Martin’s first printed spacecraft element, a titanium waveguide bracket “sufficiently small to slot in the palm of your hand,” in accordance with Cuellar, was launched on NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter in 2011. Lockheed Martin additionally printed the Distant Interface Unit, an aluminum field that homes avionic circuits, on the sixth U.S. Air Pressure Superior Extraordinarily Excessive Frequency communications satellite tv for pc, which is slated to launch in 2019.

The Juno spacecraft NASA launched to Jupiter in 2011 carried Lockheed Martin’s first spaceflown printed spacecraft element, a small titanium waveguide bracket. Credit score: Lockheed Martin

In July, Lockheed Martin Area accomplished high quality testing on its largest printed half so far: a dome that caps a 1.16-meter-diameter high-pressure gas tank. To assemble the gas tanks, technicians weld a historically manufactured titanium cylinder with two of the printed domes. The corporate plans to supply prospects the printed tanks as a typical possibility for its LM 2100 satellite tv for pc bus, designed for two,300- to six,500-kilogram spacecraft.

“As extra folks get into the business and corporations make investments extra, the expertise retains getting higher and higher,” Cuellar mentioned.

Supplies engineers deserve a few of the credit score as they proceed to provide new powders and wires from aluminum, stainless-steel and Inconel.

Lockheed Martin Area’s Superior Expertise Middle in Palo Alto, California, is creating a printable type of copper.

“We’re experimenting with printing antennas onto conformal surfaces,” Cuellar mentioned. “What should you may print an antenna onto a UAV wing, for instance? There may be lots of new materials innovation occurring inside business but in addition right here inside Lockheed Martin.”

In the meantime, new tools presents corporations the power to print bigger buildings. A decade in the past, engineers may print components that might match inside a 15-centimeter dice, the printing space of their machines. Quickly, machines will provide printing areas as giant as one cubic meter, Cuellar mentioned.

As well as, the newest tools presents engineers and technicians new methods to watch printing processes and enchancment in velocity, security and reliability.

“It’s nearly like computer systems,” Cuellar mentioned. “Each three to 5 years, there’s a new machine that’s greater and higher. You must proceed to put money into additive manufacturing tools as a result of in any other case you’re going to fall behind.”

“Ten or 20 years from now, I don’t suppose engineers are going to be designing to machine stuff,” Cuellar mentioned. “They’re going to design to print it. If they will’t print it, they’ll should machine it.”

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