Category Archive: Capabilities
Primus Aerospace and Raloid Corporation focus primarily on the production of machined parts, but our customers require completed parts / assemblies that can be readily assembled into weapon systems, aircraft, and spacecraft. This means that we maintain strong relationships with a variety of companies that provide finishing services to prepare the metal parts for usage. These supply chain vendors include chemical processors, painters, heat treaters, specialty grinders, and many more.
Typical processes that Primus / Raloid utilizes with outside processors
- Chemical Film (also known as Alodine, Iridite, Chromate Conversion Coating, or Conversion Coating)
- Nickle coating (electric and electroless)
- Zinc coating
- Gold plating
- Heat treatment
- Stress relief
- Specialty testing / inspection
- Chemical testing
- CT scan
Top vendors we work with
What does it take to work with us?
- Qualify onto our approved supplier list (ASL) – we work closely with our supply chain partners to go through our supplier qualification process. This helps us feel comfortable with your company and processes
- Be willing to work with our flow down requirements – flow down requirements are important because they layout how we will work together. This covers everything from first article inspection (FAI) procedures to certifications we need from you to provide final document packets to our customers.
- Preferably NADCAP, AS9100 or ISO certified for chemical processing, quality system, or specifically for that special process – while not always required, certifications increase our comfort and our customers comfort that your business complies with aerospace quality standards
- In some cases, you must be on our customer’s ASL – For many projects, our customers require companies that are performing special processes to be on their ASL (in addition to our own). If you are already on their ASL, great! If not, we may be able to work with you in order to get you qualified. This can range from a paper / desk audit to in-person inspection to a qualification order.
- Sense of collaboration – Many of the projects we work on are cutting edge and will require up-front collaboration between your planning / engineering team and our production / engineering / quality team to iron out any issues. We value this level of collaboration as it allows us all to deliver quality parts to the end customer.
- Commitment to quality, delivery performance, and competitive price – In the end, these three attributes are the most important and allow both companies to be competitive. When an issue happens (be it an escapement, an RMA, or just an engineering clarification), our team will work diligently to get to the right answer. We expect the same level of commitment from all of our partners.
What is mill turning?
Mill turning is the CNC machining technique of utilizing a single machine to perform both milling and turning (lathe) operations to produce a part. The use of a single machine to perform both types of cutting operations can simplify the production flow of a part through a CNC machine shop. It can also increase the repeatability as the part does not need to be fixtured multiple times. Mill turning can be done on multi axis (e.g., 5 Axis Mill) as well as a lathe with live tooling.
When is mill turning used?
Mill turning is great for cylindrical parts that have non-cylindrical features (e.g., posts, studs, through holes) and need to be produced at a high rate. Utilizing a CNC mill turn machine, allows contract manufacturer to reduce the number of operations / separate CNC machines needed, thereby increasing capacity and production rate. Many mill turn parts exist on defense ordnance and fuzing programs, due to their overall cylindrical nature and relatively high production rate requirements from the US Department of Defense.
What are considerations for production mill turn parts?
- CNC Programming – Programming a mill turned part takes an experienced mill turn programmer as well as specialized CAM software. Many programmers utilize the Mastercam Mill Turn
- package to coordinate and simulate the multiple cutting steps as well as the hand over of parts to a sub-spindle. These types of contract manufacturing jobs often require high production rates, making cycle time a premium. CNC programmers must be able to optimize the CNC program to maximize throughput on the machine.
- CNC Mill Turn Machine – mill turn machines are specialized pieces of equipment that have the ability to both cut while the work is turning (lathe / turning) as well as move cutting tools around the work (mill). Most modern CNC manufactures produce machines capable of mill turn operations.
- Multiple spindle / turret (automation) – many mill turn machines feature multiple spindles and/or turrets. This allows the CNC machine to conduct more cutting paths in a single CNC program. Sub-spindles can be used to cut features on the “backside” of a part while a second turret allows simultaneous cutting operations.
- CNC Machinists – Running production mill turned parts takes a specialized machinist as they must think in both milling and turning (lathe) operations. Check our open positions for job openings for CNC Mill Turning Machinists.
- Inspection capabilities – With high rates of production for complicated parts, mill turn production lines require smart inspection support. This can translate into well through out in-process inspection checks (IPICs) as well as end-of-line Qa lot inspections. Leveraging automated inspection equipment (e.g., CMM, Smart Scope) is essential to detecting deviation from nominal early and making tool offsets before they become a problem.
What are examples of mill turn CNC machines?
CNC Mill Turn machines are also known as multifunctional mill turn machines or lathes with live tooling.
- DMG Mori – NLX 2500, NLX 3000, NTX 1000 – 3000, CTX 800 – 3000, CLX 450
- Doosan – Puma MX, Puma SNX
- Mazak – QUICK TURN 100MS, Qt-EZ 10, HQR-250
- Haas – VMT-750
Primus’s capacity to produce mill turn parts for defense applications
Primus Aerospace maintains an Ordnance and Fuzing Cell that supports the high rate production of mill turned parts for multiple US Prime DoD customers. This team has the necessary equipment, training, and expertise to reliably produce mill turned parts for aerospace and defense applications. Additionally, our Quality Assurance (Qa) department also has the expertise and equipment needed to support the high rate production of this cell. They are familiar with the features found on mill turned parts and can quickly problem solve when a deviation is detected.
Achieving high rate production of machined components requires raw materials that can keep pace with manufacturing. Primus Aerospace utilizes aluminum bar stock to supply CNC lathes for aerospace and defense production. Our purchasing, material handling, and operations teams are very familiar with the processes necessary to ensure steady production.
Example raw materials used for production CNC machined parts
- 7055 Aluminum Alloy – 7055 Aluminum (A7055) is a high strength heat-treatable aluminum alloy that it primarily used in aerospace & defense applications. It is primarily used for high stress parts and was originally formulated by Alcoa.
- 7075 Aluminum Alloy – 7075 Aluminum (A7075) is an aerospace alloy that is used in applications requiring high specific strength. It was first developed by the Japanese during World War II for use in the Mitsubishi A6M Zero Fighter.
- 17-4 Stainless Steel – 17-4 steel (SAE 630) is a chromium-nickel-copper steel alloy that is generally used in high strength and corrosion resistive applications for aerospace, nuclear, and chemical processing applications.
- Invar – Invar (FeNi36 or 64FeNi) is a high-nickel iron alloy that is used in applications where minimal thermal expansion is needed. The alloy was invented by Swiss physicist Charles-Édouard Guillaume. It is often used in precision instruments, optical applications, and telescopes.
Materials supply chain prepares raw materials for machining
- Raw component mines – raw inputs to the metal are sourced from mines around the world. For example, to produce aluminum, mines must extract and refine the minerals (e.g., corundum) to produce bauxite.
- Raw component refining – Once the minerals are mined, they are then refined through mechanical and chemical processes into standardized chemistries. Many metal inputs require multiple refining and purification steps. For aluminum, the processes finally result in alumina.
- Smelting mill – Inputs are heated to smelting temperatures in large furnaces to achieve chemically standard alloys (e.g., 6061 Aluminum) and are finished into ingots or billets. For the rest of the manufacturing value chain, the material will remain chemically the same.
- Finishing mill – This step moves the standardized allow billet into it’s final shape and finish. For bar stock, the ingots will be heated and pressed through an extrusion mold to achieve the form needed for the CNC lathes. While many options exist for softer aluminum alloys, only specialty mills are capable of extruding harder 7000-series aluminum.
- Distributor – Metals distributors act as intermediaries for end users who need smaller quantities than the mills are willing to produce. These distributors may stock metals to service short term demand (“spot purchase”) as well as coordinate the longer term delivery for on-going production. In many cases, the distributor may also perform value added services to further prepare the metal for CNC machining (see next bullet).
- Intermediate processes (e.g., heat treating, precision grinding) – specialty bar stock often requires intermediate processing to prepare the raw material for CNC machining on a mill turn lathe or swiss screw machine. These processes will often harden the metal or tighten the tolerances around the extruded metal shape to within 0.001″.
Materials are processed prior to moving to CNC machine
Primus Aerospace offers a variety of value-added services in addition to CNC machining, providing a turnkey contract manufacturing solution to aerospace and defense OEMs and Tier 1 Suppliers. These additional services allow Primus to perform most manufacturing in-house, saving valuable time and money for our clients, while reducing supply chain disruption risk. These services include assembly, part finishing, design assistance, and heat treat / stress relief.
Aerospace and Defense Engineering Support
When Primus Aerospace receives a contract for a job, our engineering expertise allows us to work with customers to ensure that the work contracted to our shop gets completed. For pre-production aerospace and defense parts, this can include a design for manufacturability (DFM) study. Our process engineering team is highly involved throughout the pre-production / new product introduction (NPI) process, from selecting materials and CNC machines to planning outside processes. The time spent planning production ensures an efficient and repeatable process to machine high-precision aerospace parts.
Material Preparation for CNC Machining
When it comes time to begin machining, Primus offers much more than just precision 5-axis CNC milling and turning. We have a wire EDM to make precision cuts with ease – allowing creative production routing to save time and money. EDM is an electro thermal production process where an electrically charged metal wire uses the heat from electric current to cut through metal that is submerged in a de-ionized water environment. We use this process to not only machine production parts but to also remove metal powder bed fusion 3D printed parts from build plates (such as titanium 3D prints). This process can achieve accuracy up to a tenth of a thousandth of an inch (0.0001”) and is useful for creating advanced geometries out of exotic materials.
Primus Aerospace utilizes a large format water jet cutting center for creating near net shapes out of large metal plates. Water jet cutting accelerates erosion within selected regions of a metal sheet. Highly pressurized water is fed through a diamond or ruby nozzle into a mixing chamber where the pressure differential draws garnet grit into the water stream. The water-garnet mixture is projected at high pressure against the raw metal sheet. Primus Aerospace uses the waterjet table technology to cut a variety of metals including aluminum, steel, and titanium. Water jet cutting decreases CNC machining time by creating near net shapes as well as can create large sheet metal parts.
Primus Aerospace maintains internal heat treat capabilities for specific defense production parts. By bringing the heat treat special processes in-house, Primus is able to decrease supply chain variability and cut waste from the process. Our heat treatment ovens are used for stress relief, artificial aging, and annealing. When a part is heated and cooled in an environment such as metal 3D printing, internal stresses can build up due to thermal gradients created by the manufacturing process. Heat treatment is used to relieve these stresses by uniformly heating and cooling a part. Artificial aging is used to accelerate the change in properties experienced by a cast or forged metal part in a controlled manner. The controlled application of heat can cause the aging of a part to occur in a rapid manner by accelerating the aging process that occurs very slowly at room temperature. Annealing is the process of uniformly heating a metal or plastic polymer to a specific temperature, holding that temperature for a given period, and cooling the part to induce solid state phase change and cause controlled metal recrystallization. This process creates a uniform, small grain size reduces internal stresses allowing for improved ductility.
Primus Aerospace recently in-housed large bore honing to support an aerospace customer. This process uses abrasive stones to create precision surface finishes and tight-tolerance roundness on circular parts. Honing is integrated into the production sequence to create parts with qualities required for specific aerospace and defense applications (e.g., hydraulic housings). In-housing this process allowed Primus to provide a more turnkey aerospace manufacturing solution to the customer.
After all machining and outside processes are complete, Primus Aerospace is able to provide significant assembly capabilities, reducing requirements for our OEM customers. Primus Aerospace provides a top-notch assembly service to create finished, flight-ready aerospace components. Our services include but are not limited to:
- Adhesive/primer bonding
- Bearing installation
- Cables and Harnessing
- Conductivity and continuity testing
- Gasket assembly
- Helicoil / Keensert Installation
- Helium Leak Checking
- NAS/MS Hardware
- Orbital Riveting
- Relief Plug Installation
- Glass Potting
- Relief Valve Installation
- Rosan Fitting Installation
- Click Bond Nut Plates
- Valve Installation
- Laser Engraving and Part Marking
Post-machining services allow Primus to provide Original Equipment Manufacturers and other Tier 1 suppliers with turnkey manufactured parts and assemblies that are ready to hit production or final assembly.
Quality throughout the turnkey manufacturing process
Throughout machining and value-added services, Primus’s AS9100-certified quality management system ensures adherence to specifications. Primus utilizes visual, borescope, and CMM inspection services to support end applications in variety of industries. Our quality assurance professionals are extremely skilled and experienced in operating in certified environment for our aerospace and defense customers. Primus has a systematic method for preventing and removing FOD (foreign objects and debris) from our manufactured products. Our quality management system ensures we meet customer specifications and standards.
At Primus Aerospace, we offer a variety of services including engineering expertise, precision CNC machining, Titanium Powder Bed Fusion 3D Printing, wire EDM cutting, water jet cutting, honing, an AS9100 certified quality management system, heat treatment, and a variety of assembly services to meet any job’s needs. We are ready to tackle any job in our state-of-the-art (and ITAR-compliant) manufacturing facilities.
Capability: Turnkey Program Manufacturing Services
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.
||Engineering and Design:
Assembly And Specialty Processes:
· Gear Cutting
Inventory Stocking Arrangements:
· Vendor Managed Inventory
· Safety Stock
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.
||5-Axis Aerospace Machining
Casting & Forging Machining
Exotic Material Machining
Hard Turning and Milling
Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
· Contour Turning
· Form Turning
· Taper Turning
· Straight Turning
|.060” to 23” in Rotation
|.060” to 84.0” in Length
|.060” to 22.0” in Diameter
||.010” Wall Thickness Achieved on Cylindrical Housings, Deep Pocket Milling and Micro-Tubing
|Hard Turning and Milling
|Up To 70 Rockwell C
|Dimensional Tolerances and Repeatability
|Measurement Of Tolerances
|Up to 10 Millionths
|Mechanical Assembly Capabilities
NAS / MS Hardware
|Electrical Assembly Capabilities
Cables / Harnesses
Conductivity / Continuity Testing
|Examples Of Manufactured Products
||Castings & Forgings – Machining of Aluminum, Steel And Titanium
Safing & Arming Systems
Passenger / Crew Seating
Long Glass Fiber Reinforced (LGFR) Plastic
||Quoted On Job-by-Job Basis
Emergency Services Available
Rush Services Available
||Six Sigma Certification
||AS 9100 D
Aerospace Industry Standard
International Organization For Standardization
National Aerospace And Defense Contractors Accreditation Program
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.
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 VersaHone. Sunnen 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.
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.
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
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 . 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 projects. This 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 up. Fusion 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.
 3D Printing | An Overview of 3D Printing Technologies (techpats.com)
 3D Printed Lattice Structures and Generative Design • OpenFab PDX
 Velo3D launches its first metal Additive Manufacturing system (metal-am.com)
Images courtesy of Velo3D
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?
- Stainless steel
- Cast iron
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.
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