Oct.15, 2013

Aerospace was one of the first industries to take up 3D printing. In the past, when manufacturers made aerospace parts, more than 80 per cent of the metal used had to be whittled away by a machine. These days, aerospace companies are employing 3D printing to speed up the process and in turn lower the cost of manufacturing.

On Friday, Oct. 4, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company introduced its next-generation digital manufacturing technologies that the company integrates into the production cycle: Digital Tapestry. Driven by integrated Model Based Engineering (MBE) tool, Digital Tapestry is a seamless digital environment that integrates design and manufacturing into a single process.

It provides a digital environment using 3D pathfinding simulation technology called the Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL) where designers can identify areas to improve affordability and operational excellence throughout the entire lifecycle of the products. The CHIL is an advanced virtual reality and simulation laboratory that enables virtual creation before the physical creation.

The CHIL offers significant cost and time savings by using motion tracking and virtual reality technology to create a unique collaborative environment for exploring and solving problems quickly. Using CHIL simulation capabilities, hardware designs and manufacturing processes can be fine tuned in the virtual world, before production or development begins. Engineers and technicians can validate, test, and understand products and processes early in program development, when the cost, risk and time associated with making modifications are low.

Images: Lockheed Martin

"Our Digital Tapestry of production brings digital design to every stage of the production process for a fluid product development cycle," said Dennis Little, vice president of Production, on revolutionizing manufacturing. "From 3D virtual pathfinding simulations to 3D printing, we are using innovative digital technology to streamline the manufacturing process for lower cycle times and reduced costs for our customers."

3D Printing Titanium Parts

The Space Systems Company is implementing 3D printing technology to print titanium satellite parts – reducing cost, cycle time and material waste. 3D printing is one of the integral technologies for Digital Tapestry. In this additive process, a material, such as titanium, is heated and then applied in successive layers to create almost any shape. When a product is printed using additive manufacturing, waste is minimized and cycle time is drastically reduced.

Lockheed Martin is currently using this process to develop printed satellite parts and plans to continue expanding the process in the future to complex parts and maybe even full satellites.

Dennis Little, vice president of Production, demonstrates 3D printing technology

"Virtual pathfinding and 3D printing are just two of the innovations we are implementing at Space Systems Company to digitalize the production process," said Little. "From conceptualization to realization, we continue to look for new opportunities to improve the production cycle with advanced technology. In this industry, we have to continuously lean forward to new technologies to stay affordable, efficient and reliable for our customers."

Watch the video below demonstrating how Lockheed Martin is using digital technology to conceive, design and build the next generation of satellite and missile systems.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Doc wrote at 10/16/2013 1:39:24 PM:

Yes, thats really cool - creativity (with physical production) on finger-tips. Digital production (3D-printing, CNC, robotics) connected with CAD/CAM systems and augmented reality interfaces with motions tracking, and the people will take away back that productive force which he gave to the mass of huge specialized machines.

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