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The first test flight with a metal 3D-printed part

#SIU_news 2020-06-03 00:00:00

Each step of progress in studying the capabilities of additive technologies brings a solution to various problems of aeronautics. The American company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) made the first test flight with a metal 3D-printed part. The element is included in the SkyGuardian remote piloting system.

Unique experience

GA-ASI was founded in 1993 and has become a leader in the production of remote control systems for aircraft. The manufacturer also develops radars and optoelectronic flight control circuits. The successful team gained considerable experience working with 3D printing of polymers and began to master new materials.

Already in 2019, the company developed a roadmap. AddWorks, specializing in 3D printers. A wide range of engineering and consulting services, development of projects for the industrialization and validation of materials for titanium.

In collaboration with scientists, NASA's first prototype inlet was created using three-dimensional printing. Additionally, some applied innovations were tested and qualification works were performed.

Once vital ecosystems have been developed for use as minerals.

Successful partnerships accelerate the additive production of metal laser powders and improve product qualifications.

AddWorks has developed step-by-step instructions for implementing 3D printing. The company provided a wide range of engineering consulting services, so the first 3D metal part “took off” in 8 months.


Time and cost saving

After evaluating the criticality of the details and the effectiveness of the entry system, NASA was identified as a powerful business case for SkyGuardian programs. NASA's air intakes, US aeronautical committees, use various types of aircraft and public transportation. The AddWorks team confirmed the technology’s and production availability of the item

Implementation of many years of experience in the application of metal and optimal additive manifestations. 

A component has been added that provides significantly lower weight and cost of schemes compared to classical production, requiring large titanium sheet sizes and complex welding. The entrance to NASA is now made as a single element, metal 3D printing on a laser machine. M2 requires 90% of the cost of each part, and 30% of the volume and 85% less equipment.

Consolidating the number of parts has many advantages: 

  • reduction in procurement costs; 
  • reduction of assembly time and control; 
  • supply chain simplification.

The 3D printed metal parts are excellent in hard molds. The mechanical properties are the same as those of traditionally manufactured components. Range of operation is from -60 to +107 ° C.

After completing the test flight, GA-ASI placed an order for the installation of GE Additive Concept Laser devices of the M2 5 series in the new California center for additive design and production. The expansion of their own printing capabilities has led to the development of application space.

The AddWorks team has been appointed by GA-ASI's trusted advisors and continues to research the advancement of metal additives for further scaling. 

Entrance NASA unique piece printed on a metal printer entered the final qualification phase of the SkyGuardian program.

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