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Author Archives: Kyle Brengel

  1. Manufacturing Space Station Components

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    The International Space Station is a modular space station located in low Earth orbit. This feat of engineering was accomplished through collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Boeing, Space X, Northrup Grumman Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Roscosmos (Russia), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. In addition to these prime contributors, many machine shops manufactured machined high-complexity components to build the ISS.  Its purpose is to enable long-term exploration of space and provide benefits to people on Earth through research and technological developments [1]. Its basic anatomy is shown below. 

    International Space Station (ISS) Layout

     

    ISS Structure & Components 

    Structurally, the backbone of the ISS is the system of trusses attaching solar arrays, radiators, cargo, and living quarters. This is a frame with connecting joints for structural cross members and mating interfaces for connecting the trusses to other elements of the ISS.  

    ISS Truss System

    Shown above is a central truss segment manufactured as a test specimen for the ISS. Nine of these segments make up the 360-foot-long truss of the International Space Station that hold four solar arrays. These arrays are the primary power source of the ISS [3]. From a space station manufacturing perspective, this part was cut out of one large aluminum sheet with a water jet table. The pockets and holes were later bored out with a 3-axis CNC mill. Aerospace designers use pockets to achieve weight savings, and all holes are for assembly of the truss system in space. Since the holes must mate up with other components in space, it is crucial that these features are precisely located and then matched drilled.  

    The above-mentioned features are critical to the design of parts for space projects due to the extreme cost of moving materials to space. As an example – SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, which are the current means of transporting materials up to and resupplying the ISS, cost a premium of $2,720 per kg of material for transport to the space station. Weight saving cutouts that do not sacrifice the structural integrity of a part can potentially save thousands of dollars.  

    Primus Aerospace has the capacity to make parts like this truss segment completely in-house. Our Omax 120x Abrasive Water Jet Cutting Machine has a work footprint of 21’8” x 17’3” which is more than large enough to cut out most structural frame outlines. Our 3 axis and 5 axis CNC mills are precise enough to maintain the extremely tight tolerances associated with mating surfaces. 

    ISS Robonaut seen in the International Space Station

    Primus Aerospace manufactured various precision components that were used to assemble nodes and sub-assemblies of the International Space Station.  Manufactured space components were composed of either high-grade plastic or metal.  These components contributed to primary structures, secondary structures, robotic machinery, and life support systems.  One particularly interesting part that was manufactured by Primus was for the mounting structure of the robonaut (seen above).

    International Space Station Assembly 

    How were the international space station (ISS) components assembled while circling the Earth at 17,500 MPH? This engineering feat was accomplished with the station’s Mobile Servicing System. The MSS is comprised of a series of robotic arms that travel along the truss scaffolding of the International Space Station. The most notable of these arms, the Canadarm, is controlled remotely by astronauts in the Cupola Module. This is an observation deck that was specifically designed in a joint project with NASA, ESA, and Thales Alenia Space Italy to monitor and control the robotic arm [4]. The robotic arm itself has seven degrees of freedom, and all seven of its joints can rotate 540 degrees. The Canadarm can travel the entire length of the space station and is capable of large assembly tasks [5]. More intricate tasks are handled by the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, or Dextre for short. This is a two-armed robot that was primarily designed for performing external maintenance on the International Space Station and is precise enough to use tools and manipulate cargo from visiting spacecrafts [6]. The vast system of robotic arms aboard the ISS makes the seemingly impossible task of extraterrestrial machine assembly possible. 

    ISS Mobile Servicing Station

    The truss system provides the structure to which modular laboratories and nodes are attached to. Destiny is the primary United States lab for research and has 24 equipment rack interfaces for research and experiments. These interfaces house International Standard Payload Racks, modular units that contain an experiment or a set of lockers that each contain individual projects. These racks and lockers are usually purchased by governments or corporations for experimental purposes [4]. Some other research laboratories on the ISS are the European Columbus Laboratory and the Japanese Hope Laboratory.  

    Space station payload racks

    Aside from laboratories, the ISS also consists of a series of nodes. These structures perform a variety of distinct functions. The Unity node connects the US and Russian sections of the ISS. Harmony connects the US, European, and Japanese laboratories and contains several ports for spaceship docking. Tranquility provides accommodation for the inhabitants of the ISS such as living space and workout equipment.  

    These nodes and laboratories are manufactured in the same way.  The individual nodes are composed of machined space components that are then assembled into the final node.  They are all cylindrical pressure vessels with linear axial and radial ring supports. This backbone is filled in with panels to form the basic structure of these compartments.  

    Destiny lab on ISS

    Shown above is the Destiny Laboratory. Here, you can clearly see the cylindrical structure and precision machined space panels. The structural rings and axial members were either forged or extruded aluminum that were later CNC machined with a large 3 axis CNC mill to meet tolerance. The panels have a swept profile, making them impossible to manufacture on a 3-axis machine. The x-shaped cutouts shown above were milled using a 5 axis CNC mill. Primus utilizes gantry driven 5 axis CNC machines to be able to machine complex parts like the panels of the Destiny module. 5 axis machines allow the part in question to be machined on multiple different faces from complex angles without the need for re-fixturing. This allows Primus to machine parts from multiple orientations without running the risk of incorrectly locating the part during re-fixturing. With this capability, we can hit complex geometries such as coaxial holes, parallel surfaces, and tight form tolerances with precision and reliability.  

    The ISS is a multinational effort to sustain human existence in space and its primary purpose is to positively contribute to the lives of people living on Earth. It does this through research. Because the lack of gravity in space contributes negatively to human bone and muscle mass, resistive exercise devices have been developed to keep astronauts in shape while aboard the space station. These same techniques have been used to treat people with osteoporosis domestically. In addition, protein crystals can be grown far more efficiently and to greater extents in the absence of gravity, enabling researchers on board the ISS to analyze protein microstructures to a greater degree than was ever possible on Earth. This can lead to breakthroughs in the development of new drugs to treat diseases such as muscular dystrophy and cancer [10]. Futuristic technologies, such as biomaterial 3D printing and cold welding of microscopic electronic devices, are also being developed in space at a rapid pace.

    Biomaterial 3D printing has the potential to replace injured body parts at a fully customizable level. Bio-3D printing technology will revolutionize the medical field if done successfully. Cold welding allows for the perfect welding of two metals in contact with one another without sacrificing mechanical or electrical properties. This phenomenon is possible because the presence of a vacuum allows the electrons of two metal pieces in contact to flow freely between the two specimens without a layer of air or oxidized material hindering their motion. The free transport of electrons welds the two pieces together without any porosity, warping, or denaturing of either material. If this technique can be developed in space and used on Earth, it will further catalyze the influx of complex electrical devices and computers seen in the 21st century.

    We at Primus are extremely proud to know that our aerospace manufacturing efforts are contributing to the International Space Station, and the development of humankind 

     

    Sources 

    [1] http://www.pbs.org/spacestation/station/purpose.htm 

    [2] http://www.issnationallab.org/iss360/the-iss-engineering-feat-design/ 

    [3] https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_444.html 

    [4] https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/np-2015-05-022-jsc-iss-guide-2015-update-111015-508c.pdf 

    [5] https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/subsystems.html 

    [6] https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20170002575/downloads/20170002575.pdf 

    [7] https://eoportal.org/web/eoportal/satellite-missions/i/iss-mss 

    [8] https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2007/10/The_experiment_racks_are_in_place_inside_the_European_Columbus_laboratory 

    [9] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ISS_Destiny_Lab.jpg 

    [10] https://theconversation.com/five-key-findings-from-15-years-of-the-international-space-station-51540  

  2. Amanda Hoyt as new Lakewood GM

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    Primus Aerospace is excited to announce the promotion of Amanda Hoyt to General Manager of our Lakewood, Colorado facility.  Amanda has served with the company for ~10 years and is an invaluable member of the Primus team.

    Amanda most recently served in the role of Senior Account Manager demonstrating her ability to drive product deliveries for our customers.  She possesses a deep knowledge of the aerospace and defense build-to-print industry and a passion for supporting aerospace and defense customers.  In her new role as General Manager, she will oversee all aspects of production at the Lakewood facility.  Previous to her tenure at Primus, Amanda also held roles in accounting, contract administration and account management.

    In the short term, Amanda will continue supporting customers and eventually transition those responsibilities to another Senior Account Manager.

    Please join us in welcoming Amanda to her newest position with our company.

  3. Defense Turnkey Program Manufacturing Services

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    Primus Aerospace    

    Capability: Turnkey Program Manufacturing Services

     

    Description:

    With our vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities, Primus Aerospace offers turnkey program manufacturing of high-precision, high-complexity machined products for the aerospace, defense, and deep space industries. We manage the entire manufacturing program, from engineering and design to tooling, multi-axis precision machining, assembly, and specialty processes. Our services incorporate robust, end-to-end quality assurance and we administer program-specific inventory systems that align with custom workflows and stock control policies.

    As a technology-oriented company, we engineer solutions that integrate intelligent product design with sophisticated manufacturing processes. We operate a state-of-the-art production facility housing high-value machining centers capable of reliable and repeatable production of critical parts. With equipment assets that include 7-axis mills and 9-axis turning centers, our capabilities include complex milling and turning as well as thin-walled machining down to .010” wall thickness. Along with microtube machining and microtube bending, we also perform hard turning and milling up to 70 Rockwell C. We work with all primary aerospace alloys, such as aluminum, titanium, Hastelloy®, and Inconel®, and we also machine parts from advanced engineering composites. We uphold dimensional tolerances and repeatability up to ±0.0001” with measurement accuracy to .00001” on parts as large as 20.0” in diameter and 84.0” in length.

    Our services platform incorporates all aspects of mechanical and electrical assembly as well as value-added processes such as EDM, lapping, grinding, welding, and heat treating. We handle any surface finish and deburring requirements. Inside our climate-controlled Quality Assurance Laboratory, trained quality inspectors leverage a full array of test and measurement equipment to verify products comply with specifications. Accredited to both ISO 9001:2008 and AS 9100 Rev C, our quality management program supports FEMA, PPAP, and customer-specific risk analysis, and we maintain robust traceability documentation for raw materials, machining processes, outside processes, assembly, and all other critical services.

    With our program management expertise, value engineering, and robust manufacturing systems, we help companies reduce lead-time and improve product quality while reducing costs and simplifying supply chain management.  Contact us directly for a consultation.

     

    General Capabilities Engineering and Design:

    ·         Support

    ·         Mechanical

    ·         Electrical

    Multi-Axis Machining

    Assembly And Specialty Processes:

    ·         Electrical

    ·         Mechanical

    ·         Soldering

    ·         Grinding

    ·         Lapping

    ·         Gear Cutting

    Inventory Stocking Arrangements:

    ·         Consignment

    ·         Vendor Managed Inventory

    ·         Kanban

    ·         Safety Stock

    Exotic Materials

    ·         Titanium

    ·         Composites

    ·         Hastelloy

    ·         Inconel

    Dimensional Tolerances and Repeatability To 0.0001”. Measurement Of Tolerances Up to 10 Millionths.

    Milling Size Capability Up to 84” Lg.

    Turning Size Capability Up to 20” Dia.

    Finishing

    Contract Manufacturing

    Manufacturing Process 5-Axis Aerospace Machining

    Complex Milling

    Complex Turning

    Thin-Walled Machining

    Casting & Forging Machining

    Exotic Material Machining

    Hard Turning and Milling

    Complex Machining

    Assembly Services

    Engineering Services

    CNC Machining

    Additive manufacturing (3D printing)

    Machining Processes Milling

    Drilling

    Boring

    Turning:

    ·         Contour Turning

    ·         Form Turning

    ·         Taper Turning

    ·         Straight Turning

    Threading

    ·         External

    ·         Internal

    Tapping

    Countersinking

    Pocketing

    Profiling

    Reaming

    Spline

    Parting/Cutting

    Facing

    5-Axis Machining

     

    .060” to 23” in Rotation
    Complex Milling

     

    .060” to 84.0” in Length
    Complex Turning

     

    .060” to 22.0” in Diameter
    Thin-Walled Machining .010” Wall Thickness Achieved on Cylindrical Housings, Deep Pocket Milling and Micro-Tubing
    Hard Turning and Milling

     

    Up To 70 Rockwell C
    Milling Axis 3 axis

    4 axis

    5 axis

    6 axis

    7 axis

    Turning Axis 2 axis

    3 axis

    5 axis

    9 axis

    Dimensional Tolerances and Repeatability

     

    ± 0.0001”
    Measurement Of Tolerances

     

    Up to 10 Millionths
    Mechanical Assembly Capabilities Staking

    Swaging

    Broaching

    Crimping

    Potting

    Adhesive Bonding

    Wet Primer

    Welding

    Plug Installation

    Bearing Installation

    Valve Installation

    Helicoils

    Rosan Fittings

    NAS / MS Hardware

    Clickbonding

    Nut plates

    Riveting

    Kiting

    Electrical Assembly Capabilities Soldering

    PCB Installation

    Cables / Harnesses

    Conductivity / Continuity Testing

    Examples Of Manufactured Products Castings & Forgings – Machining of Aluminum, Steel And Titanium

    Fuzing Systems

    Missile Systems

    Safing & Arming Systems

    Landing Gear

    Passenger / Crew Seating

    Fairing Assemblies

    Cargo Handling

    Space Vehicles

    Actuation Systems

    Hydraulic Systems

    Turbine Components

    Ground Support

    Frames

    Switches

    Housings

    Shells

    Panels

    Reservoirs

    Pivot Assemblies

    Supports

    Struts

    Spindles

    Materials Aluminum

    Ceramics

    Steel

    Stainless Steel

    Composite

    Fiberglass

    Titanium

    Inconel

    Hastelloy

    Brass

    Long Glass Fiber Reinforced (LGFR) Plastic

    Rubber

    Lead Times Quoted On Job-by-Job Basis

    Emergency Services Available

    Rush Services Available

    Efficiency Six Sigma Certification

    Lean Manufacturing

    Kaizen/5S

    Certifications AS 9100 D

    ISO 9001:2008

    Machined defense parts

     

    Additional Information

    Industry Focus

     

    Defense

    Commercial Aerospace

    General Aviation

    Military Aviation

    Space

    Industry Standards AS

    Aerospace Industry Standard

    ISO 9100

    International Organization For Standardization

    Mil-Spec

    Military Specifications

    NADCAP

    National Aerospace And Defense Contractors Accreditation Program

    File Formats Mastercam

    CATIA

    Pro-E

    PartMaker

    SolidWorks

     

     

  4. Aerospace honing now offered by Primus Aerospace

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    What is honing?

    Honing is mechanical finishing process used by aerospace machine shops and outside processors to achieve a precision surface on a metal part.  Hones use superabrasives, also known as a honing stone, to a specific finish over the entirety of a metal surface.  These abrasive stones are configured on a tool assembly to provide consistent abrasion to the work piece..  Honing is also called bore finishing, as it’s most commonly conducted on cylindrical surfaces as a finishing technique.

    Honing is conducted with honing stones or with wire brushes that provide a very specific level of abrasion to the metal work piece.  Honing stones are generally an aluminum oxide or silicon carbide abrasive material, which is bonded with resin.

    Aerospace honing tool application

     

    Where did honing originate?

    Modern honing techniques date back to the 1940’s with the foundation of Superior Hone in Elkhart, IN.  The original intend of mechanical honing equipment was to deglaze automotive cylinder bores, but as the technique was perfected, additional applications presented themselves.

     

    What are common types of mechanical honing equipment?

    • Vertical hone – Vertical honing machines use a drive shaft that is oriented vertically and moves along the work piece in an up and down motion. An example of a vertical hone would be the Ohio Tool Works PowerHone.  Primus Aerospace utilizes an onsite Barnes 3010 honer to provide in-house honing as part of a turn-key manufacturing solution.
    • Horizontal hone – Horizontal honing machines are laid out across a floor footprint where the drive shaft moves forward and backward through a work piece. An example of a horizontal hone would be the Ohio Tool Works VersaHoneSunnen is another manufacturer that specializes in honing equipment for vehicle engine applications.

    Honing machines also differ in their capability to handle various bore diameters and part lengths / heights.  Primus’s honing capability specialize in parts that are ideally used for aerospace hydraulic reservoirs and cylinders.

     

    What is single pass vs multi pass honing?

    Most honing applications take multiple passes (known as stroke honing) to achieve the desired surface finish and depth.  Specific applications, such as engine crank arms or cam bores, require single pass honing to ideal performance.

    Barnes Drill Company Vertical Hone

    Why is honing performed in aerospace and defense applications?

    Honing allows a manufacturer to achieve a precision surface finish that is critical for some aerospace applications, such as hydraulic systems.  Aircraft manufacturers and tier one suppliers design hydraulic systems as part of the control system.  In addition to aerospace control systems, honed aerospace parts are found in pumps, valve sleeves, accumulators, fuse pins, and landing gear components.  Parts are honed to reduce friction, remove burrs, and increase equipment dependability over it’s service life.  In specific aerospace applications, the inner bores of gears or weapon barrels are honed.

     

    What is the advantage of a machine shop that has integrated honing?

    While many aerospace and defense machine shops offer honing as part of their production sequence, very few have the honing capability inside their company.  When aerospace machine shops produce a part, the production sequence may require additional capabilities (such as honing, painting, precision grinding) to meet the customer’s build-to-print requirements.  When those capabilities are not organic to the part manufacturer, they will utilize outside processors (also known as OP Houses) to perform the specialized work.  More sophisticated machine shops have additional value added services inside the company, which allows them to expedite priority parts and ensures adherence to a single quality management system (QMS), generally at the AS9100 level.  Primus Aerospace is constantly adding additional capabilities, such as wire EDM, honing, and grinding, to it’s ability to provide turn-key manufacturing solutions for aerospace and defense parts.

     

    Does Primus offer honing to aerospace & defense customers?

    Yes! Primus Aerospace offers honing as a valued added service to it’s build-to-print aerospace part production service.  Primus does not offer today, stand alone honing as a separate service to other local machine shops, but could in the future.

  5. 3D printing aerospace parts

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    This article provides an overview of the differences between additive and subtractive manufacturing, 3D printing technologies, 3D printing applications for aerospace and defense parts, and a look at how Primus utilizes titanium printing to support customers.   

    What is the difference between additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques? 

    Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is the process of creating an object, such as a critical satellite component, using material deposition and numerous post processing techniques. This is different than traditional subtractive manufacturing in one main way. Instead of taking a block of raw material and using lathes, mills, and CNC machines to remove material in a controlled manner, material is selectively added to a blank slate to build a component from the ground up. Subtractive manufacturing typically 

    3D Printing laser TI powder fusion

    uses cutting tools such as end mills, boring bars, or drill bits to remove matter from a block, bar, or slug of raw material. The tool (or the material if the machine in question is a lathe) is spun at a rapid rate and is ran through the material at computer programmed locations where stock needs to be removed. Through 3 and 5 axis machining, the work can be spun along various axes to remove material to form complex shapes. One alternative to subtractive manufacturing is 3D printing.  

    This seemingly new technology can be traced back to 1925. A patent was issued for the use of arc welding techniques to create sculptures and decorative articles by depositing welded beads of metal on top of one another to form baskets and other household items. 3D printing first found its use in manufacturing in 1982 when United Technologies Research Center filed a patent for a “Method for Fabricating Articles be Sequential Layer Deposition.” Initially, Additive Manufacturing was only used for rapid prototyping to develop a model for parts to be later created using subtractive methods. It wasn’t until the 2000’s that Additive Manufacturing began to achieved production-grade parts primarily for the medical implant industry. Since then, additive manufacturing has crossed over to the Aerospace and Defense supply chain for making high precision, low volume parts and components. 

    What are the key types of additive manufacturing / 3D printing? 

    • Stereolithography – This method utilizes liquid plastic to create 3D objects through layer-by-layer deposition. Liquid resign is collected in a vat with a clear bottom. UV light is used to trace a pattern in the vat and selectively cure the resin.  The object is dragged up by a platform to allow the part to grow from the base down [1]. This type of 3D printing is primarily used for rapid prototyping as it is too slow to produce plastic parts in a cost-effective manner.  
    • Fused Deposition Modeling – Fused Deposition Modeling feeds a thermoplastic filament into an extruder. This plastic is then deposited onto a plate to build a part layer-by-layer from the ground up. This is the most common type of 3D printing and is often seen in entry level printers. This method is also used for rapid prototyping and can be used along with Stereolithography to create negative molds for metal casting. 
    • Sheet Lamination– Sheet Lamination utilizes a cutting device (usually a laser) to slice through thin layers of material. These cuts are then deposited layer-by-layer and glued together to form parts. This strategy can be used with plastics, wood, and even metal to create prototypes and production level parts.  
    • Powder Bed Fusion– This strategy employs a laser or electron beam to weld or sinter layers of powdered metal together to from a part. Powder bed fusion is commonly employed by the Aerospace, Defense, and medical industries to create intricate, low volume production parts. The printer used by Primus Aerospace falls under this category. 

    What types of aerospace projects are best performed on a 3D printer? 

    • Prototype parts – Producing 3D printed parts requires very little setup, additional tooling or fixtures to create working parts for prototype or R&D applications. This allows design modifications to be verified with minimal effort. Engineers may 3D print a part for a prototype but later transition to precision machined parts as the program enters production phase.    
    • Complex designs – 3D printing allows designers to create parts that could not be produced with traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques.  While aerospace parts designers should not throw out the book on design for manufacturability (DFC), some applications do require designs that cannot be accomplished on a 5-axis CNC mill (such as integrated internal pathways and complex internal features).
    • Lightweight requirements – Additive manufacturing allows the incorporation of weight saving features and innovative designs that cannot be traditionally machined, such as complex lattice structures and intricate hollow structures. For example, aerospace engineers designing parts for a commercial satellite (where weight represents a high-payoff Value Engineering effort) can shed costly weight without sacrificing strength.  
    • Low production volumes  One drawback of 3D printing is its part production time. For a powder bed fusion system, builds take at least one day to print causing this technology to not be applicable for high production parts (yet).

    Additive Manufacturing at Primus Aerospace 

    Primus primarily uses a Velo3D Sapphire Metal AM Printer for additive manufacturing aerospace projectsThis machine is tailored to use powder bed fusion technologies to 3D Print space and satellite parts using a Ti 6Al-4V titanium alloy powder. 

    ThisThe Velo3D Titanium Printer  works by using a vacuum powered contactless recoater to deposit titanium powder over a build plate. The recoater dumps material over the plate, and then uses a vacuum to suck up any access metal an

     

    d ensure a consistent layer of powder. Two separate lasers sinter fuse the powder together in a predetermined pattern to methodically form a part from the base upFusion is the process of melting a two separate solid components and re-solidifying them together. This is done in layers that are slightly offset from one another to avoid empty space in the finished product. This ensures strength and reliability in precision aerospace parts. This is done on top of a build plate that sits on top of a piston, which lowers the plate to accommodate for each subsequent layer of titanium until the build is complete. The lasers and piston take instructions from Velo’s Flow software. This takes a CAD model of a part, slices it, and creates step by step instructions for the 3D printer to follow.  

    This machine has the capability to print material at low angles, parts with overhanging features, as well as internal passageways and cavities with little to no support structures. In turn, this decreases the need for post processing and allows primus to manufacture an extremely wide range of components. So far, we have used this machine to create one-piece parts with a high level of complexity, components with internal cooling passages, and thin-walled pressure vessels with an almost unattainable degree of precision.  

    Primus Aerospace supports aerospace, defense, and space manufacturers with build to print 3D printed titanium parts. Primus is able to combine this innovative 3D printing technology with other valued added services (such as finishing, grinding, or painting) and an aerospace AS9100 certified quality management system.

     

     

     

    By Josh Trujillo

    Sources 

    [1] 3D Printing | An Overview of 3D Printing Technologies (techpats.com) 

    [2] 3D Printed Lattice Structures and Generative Design • OpenFab PDX 

    [3] Velo3D launches its first metal Additive Manufacturing system (metal-am.com) 

    Images courtesy of Velo3D

  6. Aerospace waterjet cutting for parts production

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    The aerospace and defense supply chain produces highly engineered and tightly manufactured parts to support civilian and military applications.  Delivering complex aircraft, such as the F-35 advanced fighter or Orion space capsule, requires the transformation of raw materials into finished parts.  Aerospace waterjet cutting is one capability that contributes to this value chain.

     

    What is waterjet cutting?

    Cutting materials by waterjet utilizes a high-pressure nozzle to direct water and abrasive against a material to be cut.  The material sits in a ‘bath’ (also known as the waterjet table) where the sprayed water drains off into.  A high-pressure pump feeds a nozzle, that’s controlled by a PC-based controller, to blast water and abrasive through material.  Similar to a CNC mill or lathe, a programmer creates a repeatable, exact process on a computer and utilizes that program to make ultra-precise cuts with the cutting center.

    How long has waterjet cutting been around?

    Waterjet cutting was first invested in the 1930s, with low pressure systems capable of cutting paper.  By the 1960s, early waterjet units were capable of 100,000 PSI and could cut aerospace metal parts / shapes.  These processes were generally standardized by the 1970s for aerospace and defense part manufacturing.  Boeing was one of the first companies to adopt abrasive waterjet cutting for harder materials and deeper cuts.

    Why is waterjet cutting important to aerospace part production?

    Waterjet cutting is an important part of the aerospace supply chain because it provides a method to cut / rough intricate parts out of large bars of raw material.  This process significantly decreases the costly machining portion of part production, decreasing cost to both the manufacturer and customer.  Additionally, waterjet technology allows metals with high thermal conductivity (such as aluminum and streel) to be cut with minimal heat transfer.

    What can be cut with a water jet?

    Primus waterjet cutting center

    • Aluminum
    • Titanium
    • Stainless steel
    • Cast iron
    • Copper
    • Alloys
    • Glass

    What waterjet cutting equipment does Primus use?

    Primus Aerospace uses an Omax 120X JetMachining Center for its waterjet cutting needs.  This allows a cutting envelop of 20 feet long by 10 feet wide by 8 inches deep. Omax machines are known for their high precision and repeatability across a variety of materials.  The Omax 120X is a 5-axis waterjet cutting center.

    What advantages does waterjet cutting have over traditional machining?

    • No heat transfer – modern waterjet systems utilize cold water and do not create the same heat transfer profile as laser or plasma cutters
    • Capable of cutting from large bars / plates – waterjet systems can often handle large blocks of raw material to begin cutting roughed parts from. For example, Primus’s cutting center can handle blocks that are up to 200 sqf.
    • Minimizes wear on machine tools – roughing unique geometry parts for larger parts allows machine shops to decrease the amount of wear and tear on expensive machine tools. This allows the machine shop to focus on finishing operations, especially then the part contains difficult GD&T.
    • No tool wear – Waterjet systems use only high-pressure water and an abrasive additive to perform cutting, meaning there are no tools to wear out during the cutting process.
    • Capable of cutting variety of materials – Water-jet systems can cut a large variety of material types (see above) with minimal changes to the cutting center.
    • Precision cuts – the computer controlled cutting nozzle of modern cutting centers, such as those from CMS or Omax, enable accuracy down to ±0.0010″
    • Maximize yield from large blocks of material – When a skilled operator plans out parts to be cut from the raw material billet, minimal scrap material can be achieved through the use of planning software. The decreases the amount of material that is sent to the scrap yard and increases the yield of good parts.

    What materials does Primus generally cut? 

    As a contract parts manufacturer for the aerospace and defense industries, Primus Aerospace uses waterjet cutting to transform large blocks of raw material into roughed parts for further machining.  As part of the company’s support to commercial and government space programs, Primus uses it’s abrasive waterjet center to rough large blocks of titanium.

     

    Parts supplier, aerospace supply chain, defense supply chain, aerospace machine shop, Colorado machine shop, Colorado machinist, Denver manufacturing, Colorado Manufacturing

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