Oct 22, 2015 | By Kira

Just when you thought you’d heard enough about the growing demand for 3D printing in the aerospace and defense industries, yet another announcement comes today marking a new US-led initiative to bolster advanced manufacturing in aerospace parts design and education.

This time, the initiative centers on the University of Tennessee’s College of Engineering, the US Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Atlantic Precision, a leader in metal 3D printing for aerospace machining and design. According to UT, the project with the university and Atlantic Precision was created to assure “affordable and commercially viable production capabilities and capacities for items essential to national defense.” The primary goal is to increase research and development of liquid rocket engine (LRE) components and aluminum alloy parts using state of the art additive manufacturing technology.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Jeff Haynes, Air Force Research Laboratory engineer John Kleek, UT’s Stacey Patterson and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Alan Liby celebrate the opening of a high-end laser used in additive manufacturing at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

As part of a contractual agreement with Aerojet Rocketdyne—a leading manufacturer of rocket propulsion systems—and the Air Force Research Laboratory, three high-end laser additive manufacturing machines were acquired: two Concept Laser X Line systems, and an EOS M400. Both MDF and Aerojet will receive a Concept Laser X, with the EOS M400 going to Atlantic Precision’s Florida location. Each of these cutting-edge machines use laser power bed fusion to convert metal powder into LRE components.

“This particular technology is going to allow us to open up new opportunities in the design and manufacturing of aluminum alloy components for LREs,” said Professor Suresh Babu, the UT-ORNL Govenor’s Chair in Advanced Manufacturing. “The importance of having access to such a cutting-edge machine can’t be overstated.”

In addition to reinforcing national defense technologies, the initiative also aims to educate the next generation of aerospace designers coming from the University of Tennessee. “In addition to having access to state-of-the-art technology, our students will be working together with scientists and engineers from these well-respected organizations,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the College. “That is a huge positive for our educational mission.”

For ORNL, the initiative promises to increase expertise in advanced manufacturing, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, who has been working with additive manufacturing research for the past decade and is focused on developing lower-cost engines, will benefit from gaining both materials and knowledge from UT and ORNL.

With so many high profile names involved, this initiative only serves to reinforce how important and inevitable 3D printing technology and advanced manufacturing are to the present and future of aerospace manufacturing.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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