Planetary Resources announced that it has finalized a 25 million euro agreement that includes direct capital investment of 12 million euros and grants of 13 million euros from the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the banking institution Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI). The funding will accelerate the company’s technical advancements with the aim of launching the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020.

The public equity position is taken by the SNCI; and Georges Schmit, an advisory board member of the SpaceResources.lu initiative, joins Planetary Resources’ Board of Directors.

“We are excited in welcoming the Grand Duchy as a partner and an investor. Just as the country’s vision and initiative propelled the satellite communications industry through its public-private partnerships, this funding and support will fast-track our business — advancing and building upon our substantial accomplishments,” said Chris Lewicki, President and CEO, Planetary Resources, Inc. “We plan to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020 and look forward to collaborating with our European partner in this pivotal new industry.”

Étienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Government of Luxembourg, said, “The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg becoming a shareholder in Planetary Resources seals our partnership and lays the ground of the principles of our cooperation in the years to come, while demonstrating the Government’s strong commitment to support the national space sector by attracting innovative activities in space resource utilization and other related areas. The Grand Duchy has a renowned history in public-private partnerships. In 1985, Luxembourg became one of the founding shareholders of SES, a landmark for satellite telecommunications and now a world leader in this sector.”

Planetary Resources is establishing a European headquarters in Luxembourg that will conduct key research and development activities in support of its commercial asteroid prospecting capabilities, as well as support international business activities.

Core hardware and software technologies developed at Planetary Resources were tested on orbit last year. The company’s next mission, now undergoing final testing, will validate the thermographic sensor that will precisely measure temperature differences of objects on Earth. When deployed on future commercial asteroid prospecting missions, the sensor will acquire key data related to the presence of water and water-bearing minerals on asteroids. Obtaining and using these key resources in space promises to fast-track the development of off-planet economic activities as the commercial industry continues to accelerate.

Published in Planetary Resources

WhiteClouds announced the launch of 3DyourMAP for full-scale color 3d printed models produced from drone data. The new service is available via the drone industry's first app store, the DroneDeploy App Market, which launched this week.

According to PwC, the emerging global market for businesses using drones is expected to top $127 billion by 2020. As technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance increase regulators' confidence in larger numbers of drones taking to the skies, it is expected that the potential for commercial drones in industry will grow exponentially.

Customers will be able to send drone imagery of topography and terrain from DroneDeploy to WhiteClouds' servers where technical engineers will produce customized map models, available in different printed materials, for clients in widely varying industries.

"Transmitting drone data and creating customized, physical models of that data gives companies an edge and bridges the gap between digital and physical, driving more communication," says Braden Ellis, CRO, WhiteClouds, "It has always been part of our mission to help our business partners push the limits and achieve more through 3D Printing."

Currently the company sees businesses in agriculture, engineering, construction and mining visiting the DroneDeploy App Store and availing themselves of the new technology. But WhiteClouds' Ellis also sees 3DyourMAP enabling other tech manufacturers and developers to "deploy 3D printing to scale, allowing on demand products using captured data from lidar, photogrammetry, sonar, and any future 3D content capture on the horizon."

"Businesses are just beginning to see the benefits of integrating drone-captured imagery into planning and implementing new solutions," said Nicholas Pilkington, DroneDeploy's CTO and co-founder, "Partnering with WhiteClouds will enable companies to take full advantage of the technology seamlessly, quickly and affordably."

Published in whiteclouds

The National Space & Missile Materials Symposium (NSMMS) and the Commercial & Government Responsive Access to Space Technology Exchange (CRASTE) Advisory Committees have announced the details of their 2017 co-located events which will take place June 26-29, 2017 at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, CA.

These co-located conferences continue their outstanding legacy in bringing together technologists, users, and decision makers from across the nation. These events share significant support from DoD, DoE, FAA, and NASA with an effort to promote the commercial and government space and missile and space launch communities. Each year, the event’s partners help ensure that they focus on the latest advancements and challenges affecting the industry. A focal point for the events include key technology issues related to space, missile, hypersonic systems, and a variety of ground-breaking commercial space topics necessary for our Country’s defense and research and development pursuits. The NSMMS specifically focuses on the materials industry’s needs and most recent advances to enable new capabilities for challenges associated with new and future space and missile systems. A special focus is given to advanced materials technology development which is crucial to improve performance and reliability of both defense and commercial systems. CRASTE specifically focuses on matching system integrators with subsystem technology providers to facilitate new responsive space access capabilities. Special focus is given to the integration of emerging technologies and emerging space access architectures to satisfy new and existing markets. For the first time, NSMMS & CRASTE attendees will have unlimited access to all the technical sessions at both events.

Features of the event include over 150 technical presentations, a senior level Plenary Session, an exhibit show, a poster session, a student grant program, and a variety of networking events.  One additional noteworthy element of NSMMS & CRASTE is the Small Business Forum (SBF). The SBF aims to broaden industry’s contacts with regard to technology needs and transfer in order to foster future communication, innovation, and partnerships. The forum facilitates the interaction of small businesses and universities with larger “prime” contractors based on similar interests that relate to specific materials/performance metrics relevant to NASA and the DoD. Additionally, the event provides small businesses with connections and resources within the government SBIR agencies to start their interaction with or assist them along the path of meaningful interactions with a variety of the SBIR offices. The participating primes and SBIR agencies will be announced on the website in the coming months. Small businesses and universities may sign up for one-on-one appointments starting in early February.

The events have opened up their submission process for abstracts and will be accepting them until January 6th. Authors whose abstracts are accepted will have an opportunity to present in the technical sessions and in the poster session. This is a great way for organizations to present the leading edge technology or research their organization is working on. Organizations can also engage in the event through exhibiting, sponsoring, or participating in the other outreach programs the two events offer. Sponsors, poster presentations, and exhibits will be accepted until full or May 2017, whichever comes first. Typical attendance for the NSMMS & CRASTE event is 350 - 450 people.

For more information or to register, visit: www.usasymposium.com/space

Published in Blue 52 Productions

You are invited to participate in the 2016 National Space & Missile Materials Symposium (NSMMS), June 20-23 in Westminster, Colorado.

The NSMMS brings together the Nation’s technology leaders to review the critical challenges of materials, processing, and manufacturing for space, missile, and hypersonic systems. System engineers, designers, scientists, researchers, managers, and senior leaders will be in attendance from the joint services, NASA, DOE, academia, and industry. The government’s active participation in this event helps provide direction to our senior leaders, research scientists and engineers in the industry, in order to keep our capabilities internationally competitive and our defense systems the best in the world.

The Symposium has established a format that focuses on key materials and processing challenges associated with system and component needs on the critical path to enabling current and future capabilities. The NSMMS maintains this focus to directly convey to a diverse audience of researchers, planners, managers, and senior leadership the importance of supporting advanced materials technology development. Advanced materials are crucial to the improved performance and reliability of both commercial and defense systems. As a national materials community, it is important to establish and continue an exchange with our leaders emphasizing that advanced materials research must be a priority for the country.

2016 Plenary Speakers

  • Moderator: Mr. Thomas Lockhart - Director, Materials & Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Welcome by: NASA Astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore
  • Ms. Adele Ratcliff - Director, DoD Manufacturing Technology Program, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy
  • Mr. Robert Lightfoot Jr - Associate Administrator, NASA
  • Mr. Mark Sirangelo - Corporate Vice President, Space Systems Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Mr. Michael Kelly - Chief Engineer, Federal Aviation Administration


Joint Conference

NSMMS will once again co-locate with the Commercial and Government Responsive Access to Space Technology Exchange (CRASTE) for the 4th Annual event.  These symposia continue their outstanding legacy in bringing together technologists, users, and decision makers from across the nation to discuss key technology issues related to space, missile, and hypersonic systems and a variety of ground-breaking commercial space topics necessary for our Country’s defense and research and development pursuits.  What this means for you – you can attend two events with one trip, experience an expanded exhibit show and poster session, have more people to network and exchange ideas with, and have even more technical talks to participate in.

ITAR Restriction

These Symposia are restricted to U.S. CITIZENS ONLY and is ITAR Restricted in accordance with DoD directive 5230.5 under the provisions of Public Law 98-94, “Department of Defense Authorization Act, 1984,” Section 1217, Sept 24, 1983. These Symposia are not open to the general public. Presentations may not be more restrictive than Distribution C. More information about NSMMS attendance requirements can be found on the security page. CRASTE is being held at the same security level.

Published in Blue 52 Productions

UC San Diego’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS UCSD) successfully launched the Vulcan-1 rocket on Saturday, May 21, at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) site in Mojave, CA.

SEDS UCSD initially experienced some delays, but successfully launched just before 4 p.m. in heavily windy conditions, making them the first university group to design, create, and launch a rocket powered by a completely 3-D printed engine.

Vulcan-1 was 19 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, capable of 750 lb. of thrust. A cryogenic, bi-propellant, liquid-fueled blow down system, the rocket was powered with a combination of liquid oxygen (LOx) and refined kerosene. The rocket engine was sponsored by GPI Prototype & Manufacturing Services and 3D printed in inconel 718 at their facilities in Lake Bluff, IL.

The Vulcan-1 project began in 2014 and quickly grew into a team of over 60 student engineers. The team fabricated and tested the rocket at Open Source Maker Labs, a makerspace in nearby Vista, CA which provided equipment and support for the project.  SEDS UCSD also received mentor support from NASA, XCOR, Open Source Maker Labs, and many other groups in the space industry.

“This sort of technology has really come to fruition in the last few years.  This is proof of concept that if students at the undergraduate level could drive down the costs of building these engines, we could actually fly rockets and send up payload that is cheaper and more efficient,” said Darren Charrier, the group’s incoming president.  “One day, we’d like to see this technology being implemented on large-scale rockets, which means that we could send satellites to provide internet for developing countries, we could mine asteroids, perhaps even go colonize Mars.”

SEDS UCSD is an undergraduate student-run research group that aims to advance the future of space exploration and development technology. SEDS has previously garnered media attention for being the first students to design, print, and test a 3-D printed rocket engine.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will hold its DEMAND for UNMANNED symposium on June 15–16 at the Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C. Held in conjunction with the AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition (AIAA AVIATION 2016), the symposium will examine the emergence of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), how they are creating demand for advances in autonomy, robotics, and machine intelligence, and how they are changing the nature of civil and military aviation.

Topics of discussion for the symposium include: the impact of UAS on aviation; invention, entrepreneurship and UAS; perspectives on the future of autonomous systems and technology; technology roadmaps for intelligent autonomous systems; transformation in the national airspace system; and overviews of the FAA’s Center of Excellence for UAS Research and NASA’s development of a UAS traffic management system.

“I am excited about the future of UAS and autonomous systems as they represent the next big step in revolutionizing flight technology. However, they are still in their infancy today,” said Richard Wlezien, a member of the DEMAND for UNMANNED’s Steering Committee and Vance and Arlene Coffman Endowed Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, and director of the Iowa Space Grant Consortium at Iowa State University. “UAS and autonomous systems will soon be in wide use, but we can only get to that stage through continuous discussion about the technologies and how best to evolve and implement them. This is what makes DEMAND for UNMANNED such an important event—it provides a venue for academia, government, and industry representatives to have the timely conversations necessary to begin to safely and quickly integrate these systems into our national airspace and society at large. We have a lot of work to do before these systems reach their full potential, and this symposium marks a critical step in that direction.”

DEMAND for UNMANNED for the symposium include: Dallas Brooks, director, Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, Mississippi State University and co-chair, FAA/DoD/NASA/DHS Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Science and Research Panel; John-Paul Clarke, professor, Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, and director, Air Transportation Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology; Mary Louise “Missy” Cummings associate professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and director, Humans and Autonomy Laboratory, Duke University; Michael S. Francis, chief, Advanced Programs and senior fellow, United Technologies Research Center; Parimal H. Kopardekar, manager, Safe Autonomous System Operations Project, and principal investigator, Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management, NASA Ames Research Center; John S. Langford, chairman and chief executive officer, Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation; and Maj. Gen. James Poss (U.S. Air Force, retired), executive director, Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence.

On the evening of June 16, DEMAND for UNMANNED will also feature a student competition alpha test between teams from the University of Michigan, Ann Abor, Michigan; the University of Maryland, College Park; and McKinley Technology High School, Washington, D.C. Each team will use a UAV quadcopter in a two-part competition that will include autonomous control and manual flight skills.

For more information, visit: www.aiaa-aviation.org/DEMANDforUNMANNED

Published in AIAA

The Berlin-based tech startup BigRep has printed the largest FDM-3D printed drone in the world: DUSTER. The market and technological leader for large-scale serial 3D printing has produced an ultra-light, stable and with carbon threads reinforced copter drone frame with the BigRep ONE, the world's largest serial 3D printer. With dimensions of 220x190x60cm, the drone's copter frame is designed to accommodate eight electric motors, each with up to 3.8kW. The load capacity of the DUSTER is 40 to 60kg. If this full capacity is utilized, the flight time is between seven and forty minutes; with the use of further batteries it can be extended up to seventy minutes.

The drone nicknamed DUSTER is officially called OIC Copter System # 42 OT. The "OT" stands for "organic tensegrity" and describes both the organic design of the 3D printed components that form the core of the copter frame, as well as the carbon threads absorbing the frame’s tension – both while the drone is stationary and in flight. The combination of the thin-walled, hollow 3D printed parts and the carbon threads is essential for the stability and function of a ultra-light drone of this size: The printed parts are particularly well adapted to absorbing high pressure but not at performing bending and pulling motions; however the carbon threads contribute enormously to handling pulling forces. By combining the two materials, the shortcomings of the individual materials are perfectly balanced, which enhances the advantages of both.

DUSTER was jointly developed with the drone specialist Robert Reichert of OiC Drones, the first full-service drone provider. The engineer and industrial designer experimented early on with systems that could carry cameras in the air in a stable manner. With OiC, he focuses on manufacturing highly specialized flying robots. So far, DUSTER is the largest drone, which Reichert has been involved in the construction of: "Without the BigRep ONE, producing a drone of this size would not have been possible. Large-scale 3D printing allows us to think of completely new dimensions when it comes to building drones. I am very proud to have been involved in the development of DUSTER, since this drone has established a completely new benchmark."

The 3D printed copter frame for the DUSTER is very versatile as a platform and is among other things particularly suitable for use in the industrial and agriculture sectors. In the latter, the drone could be utilized for a controlled, semi-autonomous delivery of fertilizers and biological pesticides. Moreover, the drone can be used for example in the sustainable cultivation of wine.

For more information, visit: www.bigrep.com

Published in BigRep

Airbus Group and Local Motors have launched a global co-creation challenge to identify the next generation of commercial drone technology. The two companies are inviting amateurs and professionals alike into a joint project that includes a series of co-creation activities, online competitions, open-source projects and hackathons all focused on designing a next-generation commercial drone solution.

The first part of the Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge, seeks specifically to identify designs for drone aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and efficient forward flight.

Part of the inspiration behind this challenge is to identify better ways to transport medical supplies when time is of the essence and a life could be hanging in the balance. Imagine a doctor deep in the jungle having the ability to order urgently needed drugs from a hospital 100km away.

“As Local Motors and Airbus Group progress in this challenge, we expect our co-creation community to deliver the kind of amazing ideas that helped us build the world’s first co-created vehicle and 3D-printed car,” said Local Motors CEO Jay Rogers. “As we harness the power of the crowd, Airbus will have the ability to iterate on commercial drones faster than ever before. This will be a much-needed shot in the arm for civil drone development.”

This initial co-creation challenge will run through June 5 and offer $117,500 in total prize money. The evaluation of each entry will be conducted through a jury of experts in the field before potentially becoming part of an industrial program from Airbus.

“The Challenge initiative is really exciting and we are eager to see how the power of co-creation can accelerate new, innovative thinking around commercial drones,” said Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems within Airbus Group.

Assisting Local Motors and Airbus Group on this challenge is Praxis Aerospace Concepts International Inc. (PACI), which will bring its deep, technological experience in commercialization of robotics and unmanned systems to the project.

For more information, visit: www.localmotors.com/dronechallenge

Published in Local Motors

A group of nine NASA engineers from Marshall Space Flight Center and Stennis Space Center visited SEDS@UCSD on March 1 and 2 for a second design review of their static fire test stand.

The group of engineers included Roger D. Simpson, program manager for the NASA Rocket Propulsion Test Program Office, as well as current SEDS mentor Jonathan Jones, who played a key role in starting the SEDS@UCSD chapter and introduced the idea for the student-created 3-D printed rocket engine project.

The double cryogenic bi-propellant liquid rocket test stand, dubbed “Colossus”, was designed from scratch by a team of three SEDS@UCSD members–John Marcozzi, Dennis Ren, and Deenah Sanchez. Colossus showcases SEDS’ innovative high-level design capabilities and ability to build to professional protocol, allowing future members to safely and reliably test rocket engines. Since NASA’s first visit and design critique in November, the Colossus team has worked hard to make improvements and is excited to share their progress with the visiting engineers.

Deenah Sanchez, SEDS@UCSD propellant systems engineer and Colossus systems engineering lead, said, “We are extremely lucky and grateful to have mentorship and design review from NASA because we have a lot of high expectations for this system and want to adhere to industry standards, specifically NASA standards.” Sanchez noted that “NASA wants to help us as much as possible, but they also try to facilitate our growth by not doing any of the design work or calculations, but rather help through design review. I think they see that the members of SEDS have the same passion and drive in aerospace technology and space exploration as NASA does.”

SEDS@UCSD is a undergraduate student-run research group that aims to create and advance the future of space exploration and development technology. With Colossus, SEDS hopes to encourage the longevity of the group by streamlining their design and testing process. Colossus will also eventually provide steady capital for the group and ensure that future SEDS members have a solid foundation with which to develop future technologies.

For more information, visit: seds.ucsd.edu/projects-sfs.html

A new year brings new change, focus and even greater expectations, as Space Tech Expo – co-located with Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo – continues to expand in scope, as well as exhibitor and attendee numbers. With many new exhibitors welcomed, including: BAE Systems, AeroVironment, NASA AFRC and JPL, January saw the most activity in the show’s five-year history – signaling continued excitement and business opportunity for the industry in 2016.

With revenues in space and satellite manufacturing continuing to grow year on year, the event looks set to beat last year’s 45% increase in attendance figures and 25% increase in exhibitors, as visitor registrations are already tracked higher than this time last year. Fifty-two companies signed up to exhibit in just one month, meaning Space Tech Expo 2016 will host its largest event ever, with 230+ exhibiting companies and 1,700+ participating companies joining the show in Pasadena, CA, May 24-26, 2016.

The venue move from Long Beach to Pasadena has been widely supported by the local space and aerospace businesses, with JPL not only exhibiting but also featuring in the Space Tech Conference proceedings, with Deputy Director, Gen. Larry James presenting a keynote address.

The refined and restructured two-day conference brings together leading representatives of the military, government and commercial space sectors. There will be a focus on examining how military and government organizations can deliver space missions by working closely with the commercial sector, leveraging the latest innovative technologies and business models. The conference also takes a deep dive into the rapidly evolving space-to-space market, and offers specific sessions examining the plethora of emerging on-orbit services and technologies.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Claire Leon, SES, DAF, Director - Launch Enterprise, Space and Missile Systems Center
  • Michael Gazarik, Vice President - Engineering, Ball Aerospace
  • Steve Stich, Deputy Manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA
  • Mark Rawlins, Chairman, Space Data Association, and Director of Communication System Operations, Eutelsat
  • Jim Keravala, COO, Shackleton Energy Company.


Key topics for 2016:

  • Commercial, defense and new space – the inflection point
  • Launch market trends – reusability and affordability
  • Simplifying and improving ground systems architecture
  • Commercializing new technologies
  • Driving innovation with new space players
  • Cross-sector collaboration in space situational awareness
  • Enabling space-to-space commerce and on-orbit services


The new format sees Day 3 switch over to a Free Sessions day, allowing attendees to hear the small-business needs of government and military organizations, as well as prime contractors. Visitors will simply be able to access the sessions with their free expo hall pass.

With capabilities ranging from cryogenics, laser systems, materials, nanotechnology, imaging, environmental test, motion simulation, magnetics, capacitors, spacewire, NDT and connectors through to electroforming, engineering services, precision machining, 3D printers, ground systems, mission management and reconnaissance satellites, Space Tech Expo 2016 will bring a multitude of networking opportunities through focused receptions and events for attendees and exhibitors throughout the commercial, civil and military space supply chain.

The Space Tech Conference agenda will examine how military and government organizations can deliver space missions by working closely with the commercial sector to leverage the latest innovative technologies and business models. The conference also takes a deep dive into the rapidly evolving space-to-space market and offers specific sessions examining the plethora of on-orbit services and technologies emerging.

On May 26, Space Tech Expo is delighted to host the free-to-attend Gov/Mil/Prime Requirements day. The session will be held in the exhibition hall, allowing all attendees to participate and hear the upcoming space supply chain requirements of government and military organizations, as well as major prime contractors.

For more information or to register, visit: www.spacetechexpo.com

Published in Smarter Shows

Planetary Resources, in collaboration with 3D Systems, have 3d printed the first part from asteroid metal powder.

The prototypes shown below were 3D printed from an actual asteroid that was, pulverized, powdered and processed on the newly released 3D Systems ProX DMP 320 metal 3D printer.

The meteorite used for the print material was sourced from the Campo Del Cielo impact near Argentina, and is composed of iron, nickel and cobalt. The composition is similar to refinery grade steel.

Published in Planetary Resources

SME’s AeroDef Manufacturing with Composites Manufacturing will bring together the leading companies and executives from aerospace and defense manufacturing to highlight the latest technology options and trends February 8-10, 2016 at the Long Beach Convention Center. This annual technical conference and exhibition not only offers a hands-on look at solutions for aerospace and defense, but also provides opportunities to discuss industry advances and real-world applications.

“Manufacturing is key to the prosperity of our country, with aerospace and defense manufacturing underpinning the security of the nation,” said AeroDef panelist Dean Bartles, executive director of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. “The caliber of experts, technical sessions, and show floor representation assembled by SME at AeroDef offers the industry a service and return that cannot be found anywhere else.”

Industry leaders from Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, The Boeing Company, Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and NASA help develop the content and features of the event as part of the executive committee.

“SME believes that the aerospace and defense market is essential, which is why we bring together the experts in the field, to serve that community,” said Dave Morton, event manager of AeroDef for SME. “From high level strategic direction in our keynotes and panels, to hands-on practical applications on the show floor, we strive to provide a forum for gaining knowledge and experiencing the latest advancements in the industry.”

Keynote Speakers

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 8 a.m.

“The Design, Development and Delivery of the James Webb Space Telescope”

Scott Willoughby, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 12:45 p.m.

“A View of Automation and Innovation from the Corner Office”

Dan Korte, LMI Aerospace

Panel discussions

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 8:50 a.m.


“Data Analytics for Manufacturing”

Dean Bartles, Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, UI Labs

Roland Dutton, Air Force Research Laboratory

Wednesday, Feb. 10, 8:50 a.m.

“The Future of Structural Materials: 20 Year Horizon”

John Barnes, ALCOA

Mick Maher, DARPA

Todd Steyer, Boeing Research & Technology

Richard Vaia, Air Force Research Laboratory

New Show Floor Feature in 2016

The Aerofied Preferred Supplier Pavilion allows attendees to network with prequalified contract suppliers and decision makers from aerospace and defense companies. It gives attendees and exhibitors a chance to directly engage with large and medium-sized manufacturers who are looking to make both short- and long-term investments.

For more information, visit: www.aerodefevent.com

Published in SME

Aerojet Rocketdyne was awarded a contract by NASA to restart production of the RS-25 engine for the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world and designed for the Journey to Mars.

"SLS is America's next generation heavy lift system," said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of Advanced Space & Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "This is the rocket that will enable humans to leave low Earth orbit and travel deeper into the solar system, eventually taking humans to Mars."

The $1.16 billion contract, which runs from November 2015 through Sept. 30, 2024, is to restart the production line for the RS-25 engine. These production lines have been significantly improved and made more efficient since the retirement of the space shuttle program.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is the prime contractor for the RS-25, and four of these engines will fly on the bottom of the core stage of the SLS rocket, together producing more than two million pounds of thrust.

The first flight test of the SLS is slated for 2018, and it will be configured for a 70-metric-ton lift capacity and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft. As SLS evolves, it will be the most powerful rocket ever built and provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons.

"The RS-25 engines designed under this new contract will be expendable with significant affordability improvements over previous versions," added Jim Paulsen, vice president, Program Execution, Advanced Space & Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "This is due to the incorporation of new technologies, such as the introduction of simplified designs; 3-D printing technology called additive manufacturing; and streamlined manufacturing in a modern, state-of-the-art fabrication facility."

The new engines will incorporate simplified, yet highly reliable, designs to reduce manufacturing time and cost. For example, the overall engine is expected to simplify key components with dramatically reduced part count and number of welds. At the same time, the engine is being certified to a higher operational thrust level.

In addition to the design simplification, ongoing Value Stream Mapping (VSM) analyses have identified significant cost and schedule benefits by eliminating inefficiencies, redundancies or waste in the production process flow. VSMs were proven effective during the shuttle program and those lessons learned are being applied to the RS-25 restart.

Published in Aerojet Rocketdyne

The developers of the Sprite, a small, durable drone that offers an alternative to larger, generally more fragile quadcopter drones, have been presented with the latest Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award, a service grant given to innovative companies by quick-turn manufacturer Proto Labs, Inc.

The popularity of drone aircraft for consumer use is surging. More than 700,000 drones are expected to be sold nationwide this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Drones are also getting lots of buzz as a hot holiday gift item this year.

“Drones are already playing key roles in a variety of industries, and for military and public safety applications,” says Proto Labs founder Larry Lukis. “This particular drone is innovative because of its consumer-friendly design: a smaller size, greater durability and ease of use.”

The Sprite Drone, developed by Arizona-based Ascent AeroSystems, is an ultra-portable drone that collapses to the size of a water bottle and uses a coaxial rotor design (two rotors stacked one atop the other).

Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award grant provided injection-molded parts for several iterations of prototype parts for the Sprite.

Jonathan Meringer, one of the founders of Ascent AeroSystems, says early Sprite concepts were developed on a consumer-grade 3D printer using PLA and ABS-like plastics. “While that was great for our initial development, that process didn’t provide the parts with the durability we required…the injection-molded polycarbonate parts (from Proto Labs) represent production-grade quality that’s added a dramatic improvement in everything from flight performance to assembly and maintainability. We were able to build several conforming vehicles that are really close to what the final product will be.”

The target market for the Sprite includes outdoor enthusiasts, such as hikers, backpackers and wilderness adventurers, though significant interest has also come from public safety, law enforcement, defense, security, scientific research and other commercial end-users, Meringer said.

Earlier this year, Sprite benefited from what Meringer calls “an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign” that wrapped up in June. A total of $406,061 was pledged, far surpassing the goal of $200,000. Meringer says Q2 of 2016 is targeted for when the Sprite will actually reach the market. Current pricing begins at $699.

For more information, visit: www.ascentaerosystems.com

Published in Proto Labs

Stratasys announced that it has teamed with Aurora Flight Sciences to deliver, what is believed to be, the largest, fastest, and most complex 3D printed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ever produced. Unveiled for the first time at the Dubai Airshow, the high-speed aircraft is built using lightweight Stratasys materials to achieve speeds in excess of 150mph. 

To realize the joint goal to design and develop an advanced 3D printed demonstration aircraft, the final UAV – which has a 3m (9ft.) wingspan and weighs only 15kg (33lb.) – leveraged 3D printing for 80 percent of its design and manufacture and is built on the expertise of Aurora Flight Sciences’ aerospace and Stratasys’ additive manufacturing.

According to Dan Campbell, Aerospace Research Engineer at Aurora Flight Sciences, the project achieved various targets. “A primary goal for us was to show the aerospace industry just how quickly you can go from designing to building to flying a 3D printed jet-powered aircraft. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest, fastest, and most complex 3D printed UAV ever produced.”

“This is a perfect demonstration of the unique capabilities that additive manufacturing can bring to aerospace,” says Scott Sevcik, Aerospace & Defense Senior Business Development Manager, Vertical Solutions at Stratasys. “This meant using different 3D printing materials and technologies together on one aircraft to maximize the benefits of additive manufacturing and 3D print both lightweight and capable structural components.”

For Aurora, Stratasys’ additive manufacturing solutions provided the design-optimization to produce a stiff, lightweight structure without the common restrictions of traditional manufacturing methods. This also enabled the cost-effective development of a customized – or mission-specific vehicle – without the cost constraints of low-volume production.

“Stratasys 3D printing technology easily supports rapid design iterations that led to a dramatically shortened timeline from the initial concept to the first successful flight,” adds Campbell. “Overall, the technology saw us cut the design and build time of the aircraft by 50 percent.”

According to Sevcik, the project exemplifies the power of Stratasys’ flagship Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing technology.

“Aurora’s UAV is a clear evidence of FDM’s ability to build a completely enclosed, hollow structure which, unlike other manufacturing methods, allows large – yet less dense – objects to be produced,” he explains.

“In addition to leveraging FDM materials for all large and structural elements, we utilized the diverse production capability of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing to produce components better suited to other technologies.  We elected to laser sinter the nylon fuel tank, and our thrust vectoring exhaust nozzle was 3D printed in metal to withstand the extreme heat at the engine nozzle,” Sevcik adds.

“Because Stratasys is able to produce parts that meet the flame, smoke, and toxicity requirements set by the FAA, ULTEM™ has become the 3D printing material of choice for many of our aerospace customers for final production applications,” he continues.

For Sevcik, this particular collaborative project with Aurora achieves one of the foremost overall goals among aerospace manufacturers, as well as those in other industries, which is the need to constantly reduce weight.

“Whether by air, water or on land, lightweight vehicles use less fuel. This enables companies to lower operational costs, as well as reduce environmental impact. In addition, using only the exact material needed for production is expected to reduce acquisition cost by eliminating waste and reducing scrap and recycling costs,” he concludes.

Published in Stratasys

Aerojet Rocketdyne hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by more than 300 people, including local dignitaries, suppliers, customers, company leaders and employees. The event celebrated the company's completion of a $140 million infrastructure improvement project that has increased operating efficiency, reduced costs and positioned the company to bring new programs to the Los Angeles facility.

"Over the past 11 years, our Los Angeles site has undergone a complex construction project focused on creating a world-class facility capable of manufacturing large liquid rocket engines," said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. "With the completion of this project, Aerojet Rocketdyne has a premiere propulsion and innovation center to design and build rocket engines. With this newly completed facility, coupled with our technical expertise, we will now be able to build the engines that will take astronauts to Mars and continue our leadership in launching the nation's most critical and valuable national security assets."

The Los Angeles site is Aerojet Rocketdyne's center of excellence for large liquid rocket engines, where it currently manufactures the RS-68 engine components for United Launch Alliance's Delta IV launch vehicle; adapts the RS-25 engine for the Space Launch System, America's next generation heavy lift launch vehicle; builds missile defense propulsion; and most recently, it has become the design center for the AR1 engine, which the company is developing to replace the Russian-made RD-180 engine on the Atlas V launch vehicle.

"This investment demonstrates our ongoing commitment toward innovation and the next generation of world-leading propulsion systems, such as the RS-25 and AR1 advanced liquid rocket engines," added Drake. "Aerojet Rocketdyne has been the go-to provider of U.S. propulsion systems for the last 70 years and RS-25 and AR1 will continue that legacy."

The RS-25 and AR1 engines are examples of capitalizing on proven, heritage systems to enable space exploration for generations to come and answer the urgent needs of national security. Aerojet Rocketdyne has been working on the RS-25 engines since they originally flew on the space shuttle. Four of these engines will fly at the base of the core stage for the Space Launch System, which is the rocket that will eventually take humans to Mars. The company is also currently building the AR1 engine to address the nation's need to end the country's reliance on Russia to launch national security space assets. The AR1 is the logical choice to minimize risk, cost and address the schedule needs of the country to have an American engine ready for 2019.

The project included the construction of a new 24,000-square-foot Component Test Center that provides unique structural, vibration, pressure, water flow and spin test capabilities; a new 20,000-square-foot nozzle assembly and fabrication center that includes a one-of-a-kind furnace that is capable of brazing the nozzle for the RS-25 engine; and a new 11,000-square-foot metallic and non-metallic materials testing lab.

For more information, visit: www.AerojetRocketdyne.com

Published in Aerojet Rocketdyne

Lightweight metals leader Alcoa (NYSE: AA) officially opened its state-of-the-art jet engine parts facility in La Porte, Indiana. The facility doubles Alcoa’s capacity in La Porte and provides new capabilities that broaden its reach in engines for large commercial aircraft. The new plant will meet increasing demand from makers of best-selling jet engines, growing Alcoa’s value-add business in aerospace.

Innovation is at the heart of the La Porte expansion,” said Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld. “We combined some of the world’s best metallurgists, product engineers and manufacturing experts to broaden our capabilities and deliver the highly advanced components our customers need to build jet engines at high volumes.”

The approximately $100 million, 320,000-square-foot expansion, announced last year, enables Alcoa to manufacture single piece structural parts—components that encase the rotating parts of an engine—that are nearly 60 percent larger than those already produced in La Porte. These new capabilities have broadened Alcoa’s reach into wide- and narrow-body aircraft engines. As an example, the new facility will supply structural components for the PurePower® and other engines under a 10-year, $1.1 billion contract with Pratt & Whitney announced last year. The La Porte facility also is partnering with other major aerospace engine manufacturers and their partners to supply parts for next-generation engine programs.

The facility employs the latest in high-tech, advanced manufacturing equipment, including digital x-ray and blue light technology for enhanced quality assurance. It also 3D-prints resin patterns for metallic prototypes and uses automated casting furnaces with advanced controls to meet precise product specifications.

The plant grows Alcoa’s value-add business in the soaring aerospace market and complements Alcoa’s acquisition of TITAL, which established titanium structural casting capabilities in Europe, and expanded its aluminium casting capacity. Alcoa is the world leader in jet engine blades and vanes, and through the La Porte expansion and TITAL acquisition, is becoming a leader in structural parts.

Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann and other state and local dignitaries today are joining Alcoa executives, employees and aerospace customers to celebrate the opening of the plant which will create 329 jobs by 2019. The facility has already added 155 of those positions.

“Alcoa is building on our state’s advanced manufacturing leadership, as well as providing increased opportunities for high quality careers for our community,” said Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann. “Alcoa is one of several aerospace companies choosing to expand in the Hoosier State, together announcing plans to invest more than $900 million and create more than 1,200 new jobs in the coming years.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation has offered Alcoa up to $4 million in conditional tax credits based on the Company’s job creation plans. In addition, the city of La Porte has approved tax incentives worth $7.1 million over a 10-year period.

“The City of La Porte is proud to celebrate this plant expansion with the Alcoa Team,” said La Porte Mayor Blair Milo. “This advanced facility grows our partnership with Alcoa and creates advanced manufacturing job opportunities for our community. We are excited to build on our partnership with Alcoa as it continues to enjoy growth and success.”

This is Alcoa’s second plant opening in Indiana in just over a year. In October 2014, the Company announced the opening of its $90 million greenfield state-of-the-art aluminum-lithium facility—the largest in the world—in Lafayette, Indiana. The Lafayette cast house can produce more than 20,000 metric tons (44 million pounds) of aluminum-lithium annually. Aircraft manufacturers are increasingly turning to lighter and stronger aluminum-lithium alloys, which are less expensive than composites and enable increased fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

Alcoa has been growing its multi-material aerospace business to capture growth in the global aerospace market in support of its broader transformation, and has become a leader in jet engine components and aircraft structures. Alcoa acquired global titanium leader RTI International Metals, aerospace components manufacturer TITAL and global jet engine parts leader Firth Rixson. On a pro forma basis, Alcoa’s 2014 aerospace revenues reached $5.6 billion following these acquisitions, making it one of the world’s largest aerospace parts manufacturers.

Alcoa also has grown organically. It opened the world’s largest aluminum-lithium facility in Lafayette, Indiana, launched expansions to increase jet engine parts production in La Porte, Indiana and Hampton, Virginia, began installation of advanced aerospace plate manufacturing capabilities in Davenport, Iowa, announced plans to double its coatings capabilities for jet engine components in Whitehall, Michigan, announced an investment in technology that strengthens the metallic structures of traditional and additive manufactured parts in Whitehall, Michigan and announced plans to expand its R&D center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to accelerate the development of advanced 3D-printing materials and processes.

For more information, visit: www.alcoa.com/laporte

Published in Alcoa

Generis Group’s American Aerospace & Defense Summit 2015 will be taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 8th and 9th, 2015. Over the course of the two day summit 150 senior level executives will delve into strategies to overcome industry challenges and optimize manufacturing and R&D in American aerospace and defense.

Aerospace is America’s leading manufacturing export industry. According to the Conference Chair, Michael Heil, President of the Ohio Aerospace Institute, it is the “envy of the world”. However, increasing international competition, large federal budget deficits and shrinking defense budgets present a huge challenge to American manufacturers. “We’re still the world’s best, but the gap is shrinking. China is emerging as a formidable aerospace and defense competitor” explains Dr. Heil.

The aerospace and defense industries are also facing some growing workforce issues. “Foreign competition will continue to grow stronger in the future. I worry about our ability to attract the best and brightest of our youth to the aerospace and defense industry“ notes Dr. Heil. “The lack of the ability to train and maintain an experienced workforce” is becoming a major concern, agrees summit speaker Debra Hensley, Quality & Production Staff Specialist, Bell Helicopter. She adds that “with the leaning out of the workforce, current state of the aerospace industry, many senior employees have left the workforce leaving a gap in the level of experience that remains in companies.”

Despite these issues there are also some exciting opportunities and technologies on the horizon. “We are at the early stage of understanding the potential benefits of additive manufacturing” explains Dr. Heil “it could be a major game changer.” Debra Hensley predicts “more Tiltrotor Technology, the industry loves it,” and “smaller more capable products with reduced cost. It’s here today but the test is developing, launching and staying competitive.”

To gain a greater understanding of the challenges facing the american aerospace and defense industry and to hear first hand strategies to overcome them join the discussion this December at Generis Group’s American Aerospace & Defense Summit 2015.

For more information or to register, visit: www.aadsummit.com

Published in Generis Group

GE Aviation is creating adjacent factories in Huntsville, Alabama, to mass-produce silicon carbide (SiC) materials used to manufacture ceramic matrix composite components (CMCs) for jet engines and land-based gas turbines.

GE Aviation will invest more than $200 million to construct two factories on 100 acres in Huntsville. When the factories are operational later this decade, they are expected to employ up to 300 people.

GE Aviation’s Sanjay Correa was joined by Governor Robert J. Bentley and members of the Alabama delegation at the Alabama State Capital in Montgomery to make the announcement.

“Establishing the new GE factories in Alabama is a very significant step in developing the supply chain we need in order to produce CMC components in large volume,” said Correa, Vice President, CMC Program at GE Aviation.

One plant will produce silicon carbide (SiC) ceramic fiber. It will be the first such operation in the United States. Today, the only large-scale SiC ceramic fiber factory in the world is operated by NGS Advanced Fibers in Japan, which is a joint company of Nippon Carbon, GE, and Safran of France. The adjacent GE factory in Alabama will use the SiC ceramic fiber to produce the unidirectional CMC tape necessary to fabricate CMC components.

Construction of the two plants will begin in mid-2016, with full completion by the first half of 2018. Production begins in 2018. GE has already begun hiring the technical team that will transfer to the Huntsville operation. GE expects to begin hiring the hourly workforce in late 2016.

An advanced materials revolution in jet propulsion

The use of lightweight, heat-resistant CMCs in the hot section of GE jet engines is a breakthrough for the jet propulsion industry. CMCs comprise SiC ceramic fibers in a SiC matrix, enhanced by proprietary coatings.

With one-third the density of metal alloys, these ultra-lightweight CMCs reduce the overall engine weight. Further, their high-temperature properties greatly enhance engine performance, durability, and fuel economy. CMCs are far more heat resistant than metal alloys, hence requiring less cooling air in the engine’s hot section. By using this air instead in the engine flow path, an engine runs more efficiently.

For more than 20 years, scientists at GE’s Global Research Centers and GE’s industrial businesses have worked to develop CMCs for commercial applications. The best-selling LEAP engine, being developed by CFM International, the 50/50 joint company of GE and Snecma (Safran) of France, is the first commercial jet engine to use CMCs in the high-pressure turbine section. The LEAP engine, with more than 9,500 orders and commitments, is currently completing certification testing. It is scheduled to enter airline service next year powering the Airbus A320neo, and in 2017 powering the Boeing 737 MAX.

The Alabama plants: From ceramic fiber to ceramic tape to CMC components

Producing CMCs requires complex processing steps using a synthetically produced compound of silicon and carbon. The two GE Aviation factories being established are involved in separate steps in the process – the production of SiC ceramic fibers and the production of SiC ceramic tape. The factories:

*Ceramic Fiber Plant. Supported by funding ($21.9 million) from the U.S. Air Force Research Lab Title III Office, this plant will dramatically increase U.S. capability to produce SiC ceramic fiber capable of withstanding temperatures of 2400F.

The SiC ceramic fibers plant will license fiber-producing technology from NGS Advanced Fibers Co. in Japan, a joint company formed in 2012 with Japan’s Nippon Carbon (with 50% ownership in NGS), GE (25% ownership), and Herakles Safran France (25% ownership). NGS, which already produces SiC fibers for GE’s CMC components, is establishing a second factory in Japan to increase capacity to meet growing demand. The GE fiber plant in Huntsville will complement the growing capacity at NGS.

Once the Huntsville plant is operational, it will sell fiber to the Department of Defense, GE businesses, Herakles (Safran), and other outside customers subject to U.S. regulations. It will be the first U.S.-based factory to produce SiC ceramic fiber on a large industrial scale. The two other NGS partners will ultimately have the opportunity to become equity partners in the Huntsville plant.

This adjacent plant, financed solely by GE, will apply proprietary coatings to the ceramic fiber and form them into a matrix to produce CMC tape. The ceramic tape will be used by GE Aviation at its new CMC manufacturing site in Asheville, N.C., which opened in 2014. The Asheville facility fabricates CMC shrouds for the LEAP engine’s high-pressure turbine section.

In addition, GE’s Power and Water business is testing CMCs in its newest and most efficient, air-cooled gas turbine. At GE Power and Water’s new Advanced Manufacturing Works facility in Greenville, SC, prototype CMC components are being built to replace super alloys in large gas turbines.

Rising GE Demand for CMC Components

The demand for CMCs is expected to grow tenfold over the next decade. Each LEAP has 18 CMC turbine shrouds, which are stationary parts in the high-pressure turbine that direct air and ensure turbine blade efficiency. Also, CMCs are being used in the combustor and high-pressure turbine section of the new GE9X engine under development for the Boeing 777X twin-aisle aircraft. Almost 700 GE9X engines are on order today, with the aircraft entering service by 2020.

GE is incorporating CMC components in advanced military engines including the GE3000 for the U.S. Army. GE’s advanced turboshaft demonstrator FATE (Future Affordable Turbine Engine) also for the Army increases the use of hot-section CMCs to achieve aggressive fuel efficiency, power-to-weight ratio, and lower maintenance cost goals. CMCs are currently being evaluated for upgrades to existing engines like the highly popular T700 helicopter engine.

GE Aviation’s growing commitment to Alabama

The announcement represents GE Aviation’s second significant factory investment in Alabama in recent years. Since 2013, GE Aviation has also invested more than $100 million in a 300,000-square-foot factory in Auburn, near the storied Auburn University campus, where the company is engaged in jet engine component manufacturing (super-alloy machined parts) as well as establishing the world’s highest-volume additive manufacturing center.

Over the past year, the Auburn plant has been installing and qualifying additive manufacturing capability, including more than a dozen laser melting machines. Fuel nozzles will be the first components to be built using additive processes for the best-selling LEAP engine by CFM International. It marks the first time such a complex component will be manufactured using additive technology.

GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of jet engines, components and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.

For more information, visit: www.geaviation.com

Published in GE

Boeing opened its new research and technology center in St. Louis. The facility will serve as the company's regional hub for collaborative technology development with academic institutions and research partners in systems technology.

Boeing leaders joined local dignitaries and employees for a ribbon cutting and tours of the research labs. With more than 180,000 square-feet devoted to the creation and development of technologies for use in current and future Boeing products, the Boeing Research & Technology-Missouri (BR&T-Missouri) research center has grown significantly since it was first announced in 2013.

"We're building a deeply talented workforce here that will make important contributions to future products," said Nancy Pendleton, leader of the BR&T-Missouri research center. "The new BR&T-Missouri research center allows access to and development of cutting-edge technologies across a broad spectrum of research areas, which will help launch the next hundred years of innovation."

New labs and capabilities in Missouri include the Non-Destructive Test Lab, the Human Systems Integration Center, a Polymer Synthesis Lab, and the soon-to-be-built Collaborative Autonomous Systems Lab. More than 700 engineers, technicians and staff at BR&T-Missouri will develop a variety of other technologies that include systems, digital aviation and support technology, rate-independent production and next generation materials.

"Missouri is a great place for us to be – the proximity to local talent and research partners gives us access to some of the best minds in the industry," said Pendleton. "Our research agreements with Missouri University of Science and Technology and St. Louis University are just one more way we are advancing technologies."

"Today marks another exciting chapter in Boeing's continued growth in St. Louis," Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said. "Already the headquarters of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, the company's St. Louis campus continues to grow and diversify, creating hundreds of high-tech jobs and strengthening our economy. This state-of-the-art research and technology center is a great testament to our enduring partnership with Boeing, the dedicated men and women who work there, and the strong bipartisan effort to position Missouri to compete for next-generation aerospace jobs."

BR&T is the company's advanced research and development organization, providing technologies that enable the development of future aerospace solutions while improving the cycle time, cost, quality and performance of existing Boeing products and services. BR&T-Missouri rounds out the company's 10 other research centers around the world in Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Russia and the United States, including Alabama, California, South Carolina and Washington.

For more information, visit: www.boeing.com

Published in Boeing

A key part of the F-1 engine — the rocket engine that propelled the Saturn V and sent men to Moon -- just completed a series of tests that will provide new data for today's rocket engine designers. While this rocket engine component is not currently being flown, engineers were able to test a 1960's era rocket engine part, the gas generator, in 2013, and then make one with additive manufacturing and test it on the same stand - giving NASA engineers a direct one-to-one comparison of a key rocket component.

"This test gave NASA the rare opportunity to test a 3-D printed rocket engine part, an engine part for which we have lots of data, including a test done three years ago with modern instrumentation," said Chris Protz. "This adds to the database we are creating by testing injectors, turbo pumps and other 3-D printed rocket engine parts of interest to both NASA and industry."

Additive manufacturing layers metallic powders to form engine parts, but much is still unknown about the ability to produce rocket engine parts reliable enough for use on launch vehicles carrying humans. Over the last few years, NASA engineers have built and tested a variety of complex rocket components manufactured with 3-D printing processes. The part put to the test in this particular series, a gas generator, supplies power to fuel pump to deliver propellant to the engine.

The gas generator produces around 30,000 pounds of thrust and was fired up on the same test stands at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama where Protz and his team tested a vintage F-1 gas generator in 2013. New cutting-edge instruments on the stand measured performance and combustion properties, providing engineers with new data on old hardware. The gas generator tests allow a direct comparison of the F-1 engine component built with traditional manufacturing -- welding and forging -- to a similar F-1 engine component with parts built with additive manufacturing.

NASA conducted this test series for Dynetics in Huntsville and its partner Aerojet Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, California, who built the gas generator and is examining future technologies and their applicability to future propulsion systems.

The results from these tests of a 3-D printed F-1 gas generator adds more information to help NASA and the aerospace industry reduce the risks associated with using 3-D printing to make future engine parts, especially for future versions of spacecraft like NASA’s new Space Launch System.

The Space Launch System will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration, with the first version of the rocket, referred to as Block 1, capable of launching 70 metric tons to low-Earth orbit. This first configuration will be powered by twin boosters and four RS-25 engines. The next planned evolution of the SLS, Block 1B, would use a more powerful exploration upper stage to enable more ambitious missions with a 105-metric-ton lift capacity.

Ultimately, a later evolution, Block 2, will add a pair of advanced solid or liquid propellant boosters to provide an unprecedented 130-metric-ton lift capability to enable missions even farther into our solar system, including Mars.

“NASA is exploring many technologies to enhance the Space Launch System as it evolves for use in a variety of missions,” said Sam Stephens, SLS Advanced Development Task Lead at Marshall, where the SLS Program is managed. “If it proves to be a viable option, additive manufacturing may help us build future propulsion systems. With this testing, NASA is helping the community and the nation’s aerospace companies stay at the forefront of advanced technologies.”

Additive manufacturing is one of many technologies that could help provide affordable propulsion systems for the rocket that will take humans on the journey to Mars. This additive manufacturing test project is one of many projects from industry and academia SLS is funding to inform innovative and affordable solutions to evolve the launch vehicle from its initial configuration to its full lift capacity capable of sending humans farther into deep space than ever before.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls

Published in NASA

One of the most complex, 3-D printed rocket engine parts ever made, a turbopump, got its “heartbeat” racing at more than 90,000 revolutions per minute (rpms) during a successful series of tests with liquid hydrogen propellant at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. These tests along with manufacturing and testing of injectors and other rocket engine parts are paving the way for advancements in 3-D printing of complex rocket engines and more efficient production of future spacecraft.

Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, is a key technology for enhancing space vehicle designs and enabling affordable missions to Mars. The turbopump is a critical rocket engine component with a turbine that spins and generates more than 2,000 horsepower--twice the horsepower of a NASCAR engine. Over the course of 15 tests, the turbopump reached full power, delivering 1,200 gallons of cryogenic liquid hydrogen per minute--enough to power an upper stage rocket engine capable of generating 35,000 pounds of thrust.

“Designing, building, and testing a 3-D printed rocket part as complex as the fuel pump was crucial to Marshall’s upcoming tests of an additively manufactured demonstrator engine made almost entirely with 3-D printed parts,” said Mary Beth Koelbl, deputy manager of Marshall’s Propulsion Systems Department. “By testing this fuel pump and other rocket parts made with additive manufacturing, NASA aims to drive down the risks and costs associated with using an entirely new process to build rocket engines.”

The 3-D printed turbopump has 45 percent fewer parts than similar pumps made with traditional welding and assembly techniques. Marshall engineers designed the fuel pump and its components and leveraged the expertise of four suppliers to build the parts using 3-D printing processes. To make each part, a design is entered into a 3-D printer's computer. The printer then builds each part by layering metal powder and fusing it together with a laser, using a process known as selective laser melting.

“NASA is making big advances in the additive manufacturing arena with this work," said Marty Calvert, Marshall’s design lead for the turbopump. “Several companies have indicated that the parts for this fuel pump were the most complex they have ever made with 3-D printing.”

During the tests, the 3-D printed turbopump was exposed to extreme environments experienced inside a rocket engine where fuel is burned at greater than 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit (3,315 degrees Celsius) to produce thrust.  The turbopump delivers the fuel in the form of liquid hydrogen cooled below 400 degrees Fahrenheit (-240 degrees Celsius). Testing helps ensure 3-D printed parts operate successfully under these harsh conditions. Test data are available to American companies working to drive down the cost of using this new manufacturing process to build parts that meet aerospace standards. All data on materials characterization and performance are compiled in NASA’s Materials and Processes Technical Information System, called MAPTIS, which is available to approved users.

“Our team designed and tested the fuel pump and other parts, such as injectors and valves, for the additive manufactured demonstrator engine in just two years,” said Nick Case, a propulsion engineer and systems lead for the turbopump work. “If we used traditional manufacturing processes, it would have taken us double that time. Using a completely new manufacturing technique allowed NASA to design components for an additively manufactured demonstration engine in a whole new way.”

In addition to sharing test data with industry, the innovative engine designs can be provided to American companies developing future spaceflight engines. The engine thrust class and propellants were designed within the performance parameters applicable to an advanced configuration of NASA's Space Launch System, referred to as Block II. It will be the most powerful launch vehicle ever built and provide an unprecedented lift capability of 130 metric tons (143 tons) to enable missions even farther into our solar system to places like Mars.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/sls

Published in NASA

Stratasys along with its subsidiaries GrabCAD and MakerBot, announced the winners of the CubeSat Challenge after a month-long, highly competitive engineering competition.

Home to the world's largest community of mechanical engineers, the GrabCAD Community was invited to use 3D printing to rethink the design of a CubeSat, a standardized small satellite frame originally developed to allow university students to build low-cost satellites for research and education purposes. The goal was to design CubeSat structures that would be faster and easier to manufacture, and pack more utility into the very small volume that CubeSat designers had to work with. Participants had the chance to win prizes that range from MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers to cash to manufacturing services provided by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

Surpassing expectations, over 200 entries were submitted from all engineering disciplines and geographic locations. The submissions demonstrate the ability of additive manufacturing to vastly improve design over traditional manufacturing methods. “Engineers were able to reduce satellite structures from up to 50 parts down to two or three parts by using additive manufacturing,” said Scott Sevcik, business development manager for aerospace and defense at Stratasys. “There were a number of very creative approaches to redesigning the satellite structure, and it was great to see several of the entries consolidate the build down to two or as few as one part. That highlights one of the most significant benefits of 3D printing a structure.

Reducing part count from 50 to three can make a significant impact on a manufacturer’s operations. It can:

  • Reduce the amount of assembly labor, which saves cost and time.
  • Reduce the risk of assembly error, or a late part delaying production.
  • Reduce the risk of repetitive stress and other ergonomic injuries due to assembly effort.
  • Simplify the supply chain, reducing purchasing, receiving inspection and other ancillary risks and costs.


First place was awarded to Paolo Minetola for his entry FoldSat, a design that uses geometries only possible with 3D printing. Second place went to David Franklin for his entry STRATASATT – FDM ONE, a design that illustrates customization using real CubeSat components. Third place went to Chris Esser with his entry Foldable Articulated CubeSat for Additive Manufacturing. His design featured 3D printed threads and six hinged panels.

Entries were judged based on technical requirements including feasibility, production, value and being optimized for additive manufacturing. The judging panel included experts from the aerospace and 3D printing industry:

  • Dr. Jordi Puig-Suari, Cal Poly Professor and Co-Inventor of the CubeSat Standard
  • Dr. Robert Hoyt, CEO and Chief Scientist, Tethers Unlimited Inc.
  • David Espalin, Center Manager - W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, University of Texas, El Paso
  • Adam Hadaller, Mission Manager, Spaceflight Industries
  • Patrick Price, Aerospace Additive Manufacturing Research Engineer, Stratasys
  • Jesse Marin, Aerospace Project Engineer, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
  • Jonathan Cook, Director of Product, MakerBot


The Aerospace vertical solutions team sponsored the CubeSat Challenge, with collaboration from GrabCAD, MakerBot and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

For more information or to view the winning results, visit: www.grabcad.com/challenges/the-cubesat-challenge/results

Published in Stratasys

Infocast is proud to announce the inaugural Space 2.0 conference, set to take place September 8-10, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza San Jose in Milpitas, CA. The three day event is a unique opportunity for attendees to forge relationships with the pioneering investors and entrepreneurs in the emerging space commerce industry. Space 2.0 will be the first event dedicated to exploring the implications of “new money” in the space game, and will provide a rich networking environment to those seeking funding for ambitious projects in this exciting, futuristic landscape.

With new NASA policies in place, non-government organizations are now able participate in space-based entrepreneurship. As a result, companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrup are cutting costs and moving in a more commercial direction as competition increases within the satellite business. Newcomer Space X is in the process of becoming certified to make military satellites, ending the monopoly by United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Lockheed and Boeing, the Pentagon's two top suppliers.

Meanwhile, AirBus Defence and Space has just announced an industrial partnership with OneWeb Ltd., for the design and manufacture of a 900 microsatellite fleet, aimed at delivering affordable internet access on a global scale by 2018.

Attend Space 2.0 to network with the funders and innovators re-defining near-space commerce, identify revolutionary business models and gain insights into partnering strategies between new players and incumbent aero defense and satellite suppliers. Attendees will also discuss the latest thinking on leveraging space for commercial use, as well as the potential risk vs. reward involved in this large-scale undertaking, currently laying the groundwork for the future economy.

For more information or to register, visit: www.infocastinc.com/space

Published in Infocast

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Sikorsky Aircraft, a world leader in military and commercial rotary-wing aircraft, for $9.0 billion. The price is effectively reduced to approximately $7.1 billion, after taking into account tax benefits resulting from the transaction.

“Sikorsky is a natural fit for Lockheed Martin and complements our broad portfolio of world-class aerospace and defense products and technologies,” said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman, president and CEO. “I’m confident this acquisition will help us extend our core business into the growing areas of helicopter production and sustainment. Together, we’ll offer a strong portfolio of helicopter solutions to our global customers and accelerate the pace of innovation and new technology development.”

The acquisition is subject to customary conditions, including securing regulatory approvals, and is expected to close by late fourth quarter 2015 or early first quarter 2016.

Lockheed Martin and United Technologies Corporation have agreed to make a joint election under Section 338(h)(10) of the Internal Revenue Code, which treats the transaction as an asset purchase for tax purposes. The election generates a tax benefit with an estimated present value of $1.9 billion for Lockheed Martin and its shareholders.

The Corporation plans to align Sikorsky under the Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training (MST) business segment. MST and Stratford, Connecticut, based Sikorsky currently partner on a number of critical programs, including the VH-92 Presidential Helicopter, Combat Rescue Helicopter and the Naval MH-60 Helicopter.

Separately, Lockheed Martin will conduct a strategic review of alternatives for its government IT and technical services businesses, primarily in the Information Systems & Global Solutions business segment and a portion of the Missiles and Fire Control business segment. The programs to be reviewed represent roughly $6 billion in estimated 2015 annual sales and more than 17,000 employees.

“As global security market dynamics shift, this review will strengthen our competitive posture, enabling sustained, profitable growth and positioning Lockheed Martin to deliver value for customers, shareholders and employees,” Hewson said.

Lockheed Martin is a leading IT and technical services provider around the globe, and with a series of recent wins in the U.S., Europe and Australia, the business is well positioned for the future. However, following recent shifts in market dynamics, Lockheed Martin will explore whether the businesses can achieve greater growth and create more value for customers and shareholders outside of the Corporation. The strategic review is expected to result in a spin-off to Lockheed Martin shareholders or sale of these components.

The IS&GS programs that are not included in the strategic review are mostly focused on defense and intelligence customers and will be realigned into the Corporation’s other four business segments following completion of the review.

For more information, visit: www.lockheedmartin.com/sikorsky

Published in Lockheed Martin

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will hold its Propulsion and Energy Forum and Exposition 2015 (AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2015), July 27–29, at the Hilton Orlando, Orlando, Florida. The forum will examine how best to design and implement future energy systems; the future of aircraft propulsion, technology, and development trends in future propulsion systems; the cost and affordability of future energy and propulsion systems, as well as other topics of discussion such as electric propulsion, infrastructure, and workforce development.

“AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2015 will bring together more than 1,000 attendees from across the globe – underscoring the fact that aerospace progress depends on international cooperation among like-minded individuals, organizations, and companies committed to improving processes and technology,” said Sandra Magnus, AIAA executive director. “I am excited to see what new ideas and concepts come out of this forum, and how my fellow participants use this time to collaborate, innovate, and advance the state of the art.”

Featuring three discussion tracks, a dynamic plenary program, a robust set of Forum 360 discussion panels, and more than 600 individual presentations from 300 institutions in 28 countries across 24 topic areas, AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2015 is an international forum that will bring together leaders in the propulsion and energy fields from government, industry, and academia to discuss mission-critical topics that are timely and relevant to the aerospace and energy communities. Christopher "Chris" Lorence, general manager, Engineering Technologies, GE Aviation, will kick off the forum on Monday, July 29, with a plenary address on “Aviation Innovation.”

Other specific plenary topics include:

  • Developing Creative Storytelling Using Model Based Design
  • Global Cooperation and Economic Development
  • Cost & Affordability of Future Systems
  • Technology Development and Trends in Propulsion and Energy
  • Workforce Development


Propulsion and energy systems are at the heart of global aviation and space exploration efforts,” said Charles Precourt, vice president and general manager, Propulsion Systems Division, Orbital ATK, and the forum’s general chair. “Advances in technology will enable us to travel faster, farther, and more efficiently than ever before, and reduce our impact on the environment. With six plenary sessions, six Forum 360 panels and more than 600 technical papers, AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2015 will provide attendees with opportunities to hear from and collaborate with colleagues from across the industry and around the world. At every session, event and even in the hallways, you will hear engaging, substantive and forward-focused conversations that will positively impact propulsion and energy systems for decades to come.”

AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2015 will feature expert speakers and industry thought leaders, including:

  • Jean Botti, executive vice president, research and technology, Airbus Group
  • Frank Culbertson, president, Space Systems Group, Orbital ATK
  • Jonny Dyer, chief engineer, Google + Skybox Imaging
  • Jean-Paul Ebanga, president, CFM International
  • Barbara Esker, deputy director, Advanced Air Vehicles Program, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA
  • N. Wayne Hale Jr., director of human spaceflight, Space Aerospace Services LLC
  • Mike Hawes, vice president, and Orion program manager, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company
  • Mark Lewis, director, Science and Technology Policy Institute, Institute for Defense Analyses
  • Richard Parker, director, research and technology, Rolls-Royce Corporation
  • Michael Tschanz, director of Technology and Analysis, a department within Design and Engineering at Walt Disney World®
  • Yvette Weber, engineering manager, United States Air Force.


AIAA's Form 360 panels will offer in-depth discussion of several topics, including: “Aircraft Electric Propulsion – Bridging the Gap”; “Government Investments Enabling Advancement of In-Space Propulsion”; “Evolution of our National Ground Test Capability”; “Integrated Roles of Experimental Fluid Dynamics and Computational Fluid Dynamics”; “Work/Life Balance Challenges for the 21st Century”; and “Advancing Engineering Through Effective Communication with the Media.”

AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2015 also will feature a recognition luncheon on Wednesday, July 29, at 12:30 p.m. The awards to be presented are the Aerospace Power Systems Award; Air Breathing Propulsion Award; Energy Systems Award; Engineer of the Year Award; Propellants and Combustion Award; and the Wyld Propulsion Award.

The forum also will feature a Rising Leaders in Aerospace program for young professionals. The program, sponsored by Aviation Week Network and Lockheed Martin Corporation, will offer events tailored for aerospace students and aerospace professionals just starting out or in the first few years of their career.

The executive sponsor for Propulsion and Energy 2015 is GE. Other Sponsors include: Bastion Technologies, Crean & Associates, Dunmore Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Linde Group, and Precision Fluid Controls. The forum’s media sponsors are Aerospace America and Space News.

For more information, visit: www.aiaa-propulsionenergy.org

Published in AIAA

Space Tech Expo & Conference Europe brings together leading engineers, executive management and global decision makers from commercial companies, as well as government and military institutions, involved in space industry activities. Strategically positioned in Central Europe, Bremen is a city of aerospace excellence. Space Tech Expo Europe becomes the continent’s major dedicated supply-chain and engineering event for complete spacecraft, subsystems and space-qualified components.

Space Tech Expo has a three-year history of growing into the premier space event on the West Coast of the USA and one of the largest industry gatherings in the world. The opportunity to expand into Europe signals an intent to develop international cooperation and business investment in the sector.

In addition to the exhibition, Space Tech Expo Europe features a three-day conference offering considerably expanded programming, providing comprehensive insights across business and technical issues. And a dedicated Testing Zone will showcase companies providing testing capabilities, covering the latest testing technologies, strategies and specialist services.

Space Tech Expo Europe also offers free learning opportunities for all exhibition attendees through our Free Sessions program, covering a variety of industry topics. This unique approach ensures that your time away from the office pays dividends and is both money and time well spent.

If your company would like to promote its product technologies within the spacecraft, satellite and launch operations communities, please contact us to learn more about related exhibition and sponsorship opportunities.

For more information, visit: www.spacetechexpo.eu

Published in Space Tech Conference

Alcoa (NYSE:AA) is investing $22 million in Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) technology at its facility in Whitehall, Michigan. The investment will enable Alcoa to capture growing demand for advanced titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for the world’s bestselling jet engines.

“As aerospace growth soars, Alcoa continues to invest in the latest technologies, creating added capacity to capture fast-growing demand,” said Olivier Jarrault, Executive Vice President and Alcoa Group President, Engineered Products and Solutions. “Combined with our expansions in LaPorte, Indiana and Hampton, Virginia and our growing 3D printing capabilities, this investment will give Alcoa the broadest capabilities to deliver high-quality titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for the world’s bestselling jet engines.”

HIP involves the simultaneous application of high pressure and temperatures to significantly improve the mechanical properties and quality of cast products, such as blades and structures for jet engines. In addition, the process increases the density of 3D-printed parts made using powdered metals, improving product consistency, strength and lifespan. All titanium, 3D-printed and some nickel parts used for jet engines must be treated using the HIP process.

Alcoa already owns and operates one of the world’s largest HIP technology complexes for aerospace. This investment will expand Alcoa’s capabilities even further, enabling it to process its largest jet engine parts in-house. Through expansions in LaPorte, Indiana and Hampton, Virginia, and by expanding its 3D printing capabilities, Alcoa is extending its product range for next generation narrow- and wide-body aircraft engines, increasing its need for HIP capabilities. With this investment, Alcoa will be able to process any cast jet engine product in its current portfolio.

Alcoa is installing this new technology at its Alcoa Power and Propulsion facility in Whitehall, Michigan and expects it will be ready for product qualification in 2016. Alcoa’s eight other HIP production systems are also located in Whitehall, where it has a concentration of engineering and technical resources. Alcoa pioneered this technology in the aviation industry in 1973, and moved its first unit from Battelle Laboratory to Whitehall in 1975.

Demonstrating its support for the expansion, the City of Whitehall has approved a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption valued at over $1,000,000.

This investment supports Alcoa’s strategy to build its value-add business for profitable growth and greater innovation in the aerospace market. The Company expects robust global aerospace sales growth of 9 to 10 percent in 2015 driven by strong deliveries across the large commercial aircraft, regional jet and business jet segments and sees a current 9-year production order book at 2014 delivery rates. Alcoa Power and Propulsion is expected to generate $2.2 billion in revenues by 2016 as a result of its organic growth expansions.

Published in Alcoa

Do you think 3D printers are just a new fad for hobbyists making knickknacks or limited to making prototypes? Don’t tell that to rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Making launch vehicles for NASA, the Air Force and commercial satellites, ULA knows 3D printing is a serious tool that has been around more than 25 years and is a growing production process; And ULA knows a thing or two about critical applications. On the lower-end, its rockets cost a cool $165 million and they must propel into space billion-dollar satellites weighing more than 60,000 pounds.

“It’s about as demanding an application as you can get,” says Rich Garrity, VP and General Manager Vertical Solutions Unit for Additive Manufacturing system maker Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq:SSYS). “Rockets must endure pressure, G-force, speed, vibration, heat, and extreme cold.”

United Launch Alliance is a launch services company in the U.S., and with its heritage systems – Atlas and Delta – it has supported America’s presence in space for more than 50 years. Like other leading edge manufacturers using 3D printing, ULA progressed from prototyping to tooling and then to flight hardware production.

After acquiring two Fortus 900mc 3D Production Systems from Stratasys, ULA began the process of updating the Environmental Control System (ECS) duct on the Atlas V, which will launch with the new 3D component in 2016. The ECS duct is critical to the countdown sequence of a launch, delivering nitrogen to sensitive electronic components within the rocket booster.

The previous design for the ECS duct assembly contained 140 parts, but by modifying the design using FDM 3D Printing Technology, ULA consolidated the number of parts to only 16. This significantly reduces installation time and results in a 57 percent part-cost reduction.

ULA selected ULTEM 9085 FDM thermoplastic material to produce durable, high-performance end-use parts. “ULTEM 9085 has great strength properties over a wide temperature range,” said Greg Arend, Program Manager for Additive Manufacturing at ULA. “We have done testing to show that it is very capable of withstanding temperatures from cryogenic all the way up to extreme heat. And it’s tough enough to handle the vibration and stress of lift off and flight. We’re very satisfied with its performance.”

The Atlas V won’t likely be the last launch vehicle incorporating 3D printing technology. ULA has ambitious plans to increase the quantity of 3D printed parts to over 100 on the next generation rocket.

“We see somewhat of an exponential growth in the utility of 3D printing for flight applications on our current vehicles,” said Arend. “And we intend to use it heavily with our Vulcan rocket.”

For more information, visit: www.ulalaunch.com

Published in Stratasys

Network, Discover and Learn from the Industry's Leading Authorities at Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo 2015.

Whether you are seeking new suppliers, customers, distribution partners, future employees or simply new ideas, Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo represents an opportunity for you to partner with some of the most technologically diverse companies in the aerospace technology industry today - and attending the expo is completely free.

Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo 2015 offers you and your organization the opportunity to:

  • Access over 170 specialist suppliers and manufacturers of aerospace electrical systems
  • Listen to 40+ presentations from companies at the forefront of aerospace manufacturing at the free in-hall expo seminars
  • Network with hundreds of CEOs, CTOs, VPs, engineers, buyers and specifiers and decision-makers
  • Develop strategic partnerships and joint ventures that will strengthen your technology and market position
  • Explore the latest innovations in power management, batteries, electrical testing, APUs, wires and connectors and more


Access to the expo is completely free, just register online for your free pass today to secure your place.

Connect with hundreds of industry leaders from companies including:

  • Boeing
  • Moog
  • Northrop Grumman
  • SpaceX
  • GE
  • AFRL - Air Force Research Labratory
  • MPS Industries
  • Gowanda
  • NASA
  • General Atomics
  • Raytheon
  • Dassault Systemes


For more information or to register, visit: www.aesexpo.com

Published in Smarter Shows

When you think of copper, the penny in your pocket may come to mind; but NASA engineers are trying to save taxpayers millions of pennies by 3-D printing the first full-scale, copper rocket engine part.

“Building the first full-scale, copper rocket part with additive manufacturing is a milestone for aerospace 3-D printing,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Additive manufacturing is one of many technologies we are embracing to help us continue our journey to Mars and even sustain explorers living on the Red Planet.”

Numerous complex parts made of many different materials are assembled to make engines that provide the thrust that powers rockets. Additive manufacturing has the potential to reduce the time and cost of making rocket parts like the copper liner found in rocket combustion chambers where super-cold propellants are mixed and heated to the extreme temperatures needed to send rockets to space.

“On the inside of the paper-edge-thin copper liner wall, temperatures soar to over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and we have to keep it from melting by recirculating gases cooled to less than 100 degrees above absolute zero on the other side of the wall,” said Chris Singer, director of the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where the copper rocket engine liner was manufactured. “To circulate the gas, the combustion chamber liner has more than 200 intricate channels built between the inner and outer liner wall. Making these tiny passages with complex internal geometries challenged our additive manufacturing team.”

A selective laser melting machine in Marshall’s Materials and Processing Laboratory fused 8,255 layers of copper powder to make the chamber in 10 days and 18 hours. Before making the liner, materials engineers built several other test parts, characterized the material and created a process for additive manufacturing with copper.

“Copper is extremely good at conducting heat,” explained Zach Jones, the materials engineer who led the manufacturing at Marshall. “That’s why copper is an ideal material for lining an engine combustion chamber and for other parts as well, but this property makes the additive manufacturing of copper challenging because the laser has difficulty continuously melting the copper powder.”

Only a handful of copper rocket parts have been made with additive manufacturing, so NASA is breaking new technological ground by 3-D printing a rocket component that must withstand both extreme hot and cold temperatures and has complex cooling channels built on the outside of an inner wall that is as thin as a pencil mark. The part is built with GRCo-84, a copper alloy created by materials scientists at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, where extensive materials characterization helped validate the 3-D printing processing parameters and ensure build quality. Glenn will develop an extensive database of mechanical properties that will be used to guide future 3-D printed rocket engine designs. To increase U.S. industrial competitiveness, data will be made available to American manufacturers in NASA’s Materials and Processing Information System (MAPTIS) managed by Marshall.

“Our goal is to build rocket engine parts up to 10 times faster and reduce cost by more than 50 percent,” said Chris Protz, the Marshall propulsion engineer leading the project. “We are not trying to just make and test one part. We are developing a repeatable process that industry can adopt to manufacture engine parts with advanced designs. The ultimate goal is to make building rocket engines more affordable for everyone.”

Manufacturing the copper liner is only the first step of the Low Cost Upper Stage-Class Propulsion Project funded by NASA’s Game Changing Development Program in the Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Game Changing Program funds the development of technologies that will revolutionize future space endeavors, including NASA’s journey to Mars. The next step in this project is for Marshall engineers to ship the copper liner to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where an electron beam freedom fabrication facility will direct deposit a nickel super-alloy structural jacket onto the outside of the copper liner. Later this summer, the engine component will be hot-fire tested at Marshall to determine how the engine performs under extreme temperatures and pressures simulating the conditions inside the engine as it burns propellant during a rocket flight.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov

Published in NASA

The University of California, San Diego chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS@UCSD) conducted two hotfire tests of their second 3D printed rocket engine on April 18, 2015 at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry test facility in the Mojave Desert.

The rocket engine, named Ignus, was sponsored by and completely metal 3D printed at the facilities of GPI Prototype in Lake Bluff, IL. The rocket engine utilized liquid oxygen and kerosene as its propellants and was designed to achieve 750 lbf of thrust, a stepping stone in the club’s goal of producing larger and more powerful rocket engines. The design and testing of this engine is part of a larger project for the students guided and mentored by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center along with Dr. Forman Williams of UCSD.

As members of UC San Diego’s Gordon Engineering Leadership Center, leaders of the club were encouraged to pursue tough and challenging projects to prepare them for their lives post-graduation.

The engine was the product of a year and a half of work that the students put in to design and fabricate both the engine and the test system. This is the students’ most notable headline since they made national news with the first test of a 3D printed engine by a university, in October 2013.

“Seeing the engine roar to life was real validation to the thousands of man hours and sleepless nights designing, building, and preparing the rocket engine and the test stand. It was a testament to our determination and passion for space technologies”, said Deepak Atyam, Club President and Gordon Fellow.

“We aim to align our research so it is compatible with the needs of the aerospace industry. 3D printing has significant benefits including huge cuts to the cost, time to fabricate, and weight of rocket engines.”

The SEDS chapter conducted this research with the support of various organizations including GPI Prototype, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Lockheed Martin, the Gordon Engineering Leadership Center, and XCOR Aerospace.

Jeremy Voigt, design and test engineer at XCOR, assisted with the testing procedures and explained “There are not many people that can do what they have done, let alone as students, in regards to successfully test firing an engine on the first try. They not only accomplished that, but did it twice in one day, and with the new technology of 3D printing. That’s nothing short of amazing.”

Ignus is the first engine that was tested in a series of hot fires of different engine designs that the club plans to do in a lead up to their eventual rocket launch later this year at the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition. The competition will be held in Green River, Utah June 24-27, 2015. That rocket, named Vulcan1, would be one of the first rockets powered by a 3D printed engine in the world. In order to fund the fabrication and launch of their rocket, the students have launched a KickStarter campaign.

The club would like to personally thank Carl Tedesco of Flometrics; Jeremy Voigt, Patrick Morrison, and Tony Busalacchi of XCOR Aerospace; and Wyatt Rehder of Masten Space Systems for their help during the testing procedures.

For more information, visit: seds.ucsd.edu or www.3d-rocket.com

NASA has established a public-private partnership with five organizations to advance knowledge about composite materials that could improve the performance of future aircraft.

Composites are innovative materials for building aircraft that can enhance strength while remaining lightweight. The agency selected the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) in Hampton, Virginia, to manage administration of the Advanced Composites Consortium, which is working to improve composite materials research and certification.

Included in the consortium are NASA's Advanced Composites Project, managed from the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); General Electric Aviation, Cincinnati; Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Palmdale, California; Boeing Research & Technology, St. Louis; a team from United Technologies Corporation led by subsidiary Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, Connecticut; and the NIA.

"NASA is committed to transforming aviation through cutting edge research and development," said Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington. "This partnership will help bring better composite materials into use more quickly, and help maintain American leadership in aviation manufacturing."

The NIA will handle communications within the consortium and help manage the programmatic and financial aspects of members' research projects. The NIA will also serve as a "tier two" member with a representative on the consortium's technical oversight committee.

NASA formed the consortium in support of the Advanced Composites Project, which is part of the Advanced Air Vehicles Program in the agency's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. The project's goal is to reduce product development and certification timelines by 30 percent for composites infused into aeronautics applications.

A panel of NASA, FAA and Air Force Research Laboratory experts reviewed 20 submissions and chose the members based on their technical expertise, willingness and ability to share in costs, certification experience with government agencies, and their focused technology areas and partnership histories.

Representatives from each organization in the consortium participated in technology goal planning discussions, assembled cooperative research teams, and developed draft plans for projects in three areas: prediction of life and strength of composite structures; rapid inspection of composites; and manufacturing process and simulation.

For more information, visit: www.nianet.org

Published in NASA

The GE90 engine, which was the first jet engine to utilize composite fiber polymeric material on the front fan blades 20 years ago, achieved another milestone—becoming the first GE engine to incorporate an additive manufactured component for the housing on the T25 sensor.

The U.S Federal Aviation Administration granted certification of the T25 engine sensor for the GE90-94B engine in February. The upgraded T25 sensor, located in the inlet to the high pressure compressor, is being retrofitted into more than 400 GE90-94B engines in service. The T25 sensor provides pressure and temperature measurements for the engine’s control system.

“Additive manufacturing has allowed GE engineers to quickly change the geometry through rapid prototyping and producing production parts, saving months of traditional cycle time for the T25 sensor housing without impacting the sensor’s capabilities,” said Bill Millhaem, general manager of the GE90/GE9X engine program at GE Aviation.

The T25 sensor housing is just the start of additive manufacturing at GE Aviation. Several next-generation engines currently in development will incorporate the advance manufacturing technique. On the LEAP engine for narrowbody aircraft and the GE9X for the Boeing 777X aircraft, GE Aviation will produce part of the fuel nozzles with additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing represents a significant technology breakthrough for GE and the aviation industry. Unlike traditional manufacturing methods that mill or cut away from a metal slab to produce a part, additive manufacturing (also called 3D printing) "grows" parts directly from a CAD file using layers of fine metal powder and an electron beam or laser. The result is complex, dense parts without the waste, manufactured in a fraction of the time it would take using other methods.

Additive manufacturing has many advantages. It allows GE to design parts with unique geometries that were impossible to create using traditional machining methods. These additive manufactured components can reduce part count by replacing assemblies with single parts and can be lighter than previous designs, saving weight and increasing an engine’s fuel efficiency.

GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of jet, turboprop and turboshaft engines, components and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.

For more information, visit: www.geaviation.com

Published in GE

When Pratt & Whitney delivers its first production PurePower® PW1500G engines to Bombardier this year, these engines will be the first ever to feature entry-into-service jet engine parts produced using additive manufacturing.

While Pratt & Whitney has produced more than 100,000 prototype parts using additive manufacturing over the past 25 years – and hundreds more to support the PurePower Geared Turbofan™ engine family's development – the company will be the first to use additive manufacturing technology to produce compressor stators and synch ring brackets for the production engines. Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G engines exclusively power the Bombardier CSeries aircraft family.

Additive manufacturing, also called three-dimensional (3D) printing, builds parts and products one layer at a time by printers. In 3D printing, additive processes are used, in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry, and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source.

"Pratt & Whitney has been working with additive manufacturing since the 1980s, and we are looking forward to our upcoming milestone, when the first production PurePower PW1500G engines with parts produced through additive manufacturing will be delivered," said Tom Prete, Pratt & Whitney's Engineering vice president. "We are a vertically integrated additive manufacturing producer with our own metal powder source and the printers necessary to create parts using this innovative technology. As a technology leader, we are intrigued by the potential of additive manufacturing to support our suite of technologies and benefits to customers and the global aerospace industry."

"Additive manufacturing offers significant benefits to the production of jet engines," said Lynn Gambill, chief engineer, Manufacturing Engineering and Global Services at Pratt & Whitney. "We have engine tested components produced through additive manufacturing in the PW1500G."

In production tests, Pratt & Whitney has realized up to 15 months lead-time savings compared to conventional manufacturing processes and up to 50 percent weight reduction in a single part. The PurePower engine family parts will be the first product produced using 3D printing powder bed additive manufacturing.

Related manufacturing technologies that will be used in the PurePower engine production include Metal Injection Molding, Electron Beam Melting and Laser Powder Bed Fusion (including Direct Metal Laser Sintering).

Pratt & Whitney and the University of Connecticut are also collaborating to advance additive manufacturing research and development. The Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center is the first of its kind in the Northeast region to work with metal powder bed technologies. With more than $4.5 million invested, the center will further advance Pratt & Whitney's additive manufacturing capabilities, while providing educational opportunities for the next generation of manufacturing engineers.



Picture 1: A Pratt & Whitney manufacturing engineer with a rapid prototype of a fitting for the PurePower® engine part made using the additive manufacturing Direct Metal Laser Sintering process using nickel alloy powder. This part is located on the external of the engine where it facilitates the passage of pressurized air into the engine interior.

Picture 2: Fuel Bypass Manifold - The picture represents the conventional design of the fuel bypass manifold from the PurePower® engine family. It was manufactured using the Electron Beam Melting process and titanium powder and is a part located on the external of the engine. An optimized version was designed, utilizing design freedom achieved by the additive manufacturing process, to remove weight & material and show the design potential of additive manufacturing. Photo: courtesy of Pratt & Whitney.

Picture 3: Gearbox Bracket - The PurePower® gearbox bracket was manufactured using Direct Metal Laser Sintering in nickel alloy.  Its purpose is to attach the gearbox to the diffuser case.  The bracket was made to mimic the conventionally machine bill-of-material part and then later optimized to reduce weight and volume using design freedom achieved by additive manufacturing. Photo: courtesy of Pratt & Whitney.

Pictures 4&5: These images are from the Pratt & Whitney additive manufacturing lab at the University of Connecticut. The gentleman in these photo is Pratt & Whitney employee working at the lab.

For more information, visit: www.pratt-whitney.com

Published in Pratt & Whitney

GKN Aerospace has entered a strategic partnership with additive manufacturing specialist, Arcam AB, to develop and industrialise one of the most promising of the new ‘additive’ processes to meet the needs of the expanding future aerospace market.

The joint technology development (JTD) partnership is focused on developing electron beam melting (EBM), a process in which metal components are built up, layer-by-layer, using a metal powder that is melted by a powerful electron beam. EBM is able to produce very precise, complex, small to medium-sized components that require very little finishing.

As part of this agreement, GKN Aerospace has ordered two ARCAM Q20 EBM machines to be installed at GKN Aerospace’s Bristol, UK additive manufacturing (AM) centre. GKN Aerospace and ARCAM engineers will then work together to create the next generation of EBM equipment, able to manufacture complex titanium structures at the high volumes required to meet future demand.

Russ Dunn, Senior Vice President Engineering & Technology, GKN Aerospace explains: “We have been working with Arcam for some time exploring what we believe to be one of the most promising of the additive processes. Our aim has been to fully understand how EBM can be applied to our future aerostructures and aero engines portfolio. Through this new strategic partnership with ARCAM our combined additive manufacturing teams will now take the next steps towards fully industrialising this AM technology.”

He adds: “We believe the array of processes that fall under the ‘additive’ umbrella will revolutionise manufacturing across every industrial sector - particularly in aerospace where cost, weight and performance are critical.  Drawing on GKN Powder Metallurgy’s experience and our own extensive aerospace expertise we aim to develop a roadmap that will industrialise additive manufacturing for this sector.”

Magnus René, CEO, Arcam comments:  “We are now very happy to announce this order and important partnership with GKN Aerospace.  We are convinced that the close collaboration with GKN Aerospace will be key for further industrialization of our EBM technology in the aerospace industry”

The agreement forms part of the GKN group’s major AM research and development initiative.  Within the GKN Aerospace business, four dedicated global AM development centres have been established in North America and Europe each clearly focused on progressing specific additive processes and technologies.

Additive processes have huge potential for the future aerospace sector where there is a growing demand for more, and more efficient, aircraft.  In the coming years the industry  will need to  manufacture at greater speeds and with total consistency - producing components that are lighter and more cost-effective, and that generate less waste during manufacture and lower emissions in operation.

For more information, visit: www.gkn.com

Published in GKN Aerospace

OMICS Group invites all the participants across the globe to attend the 3rd International Conference and Exhibition on Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. The event will be held Oct 05-07, 2015 in San Francisco, with the theme “Modern Practices in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering".

Mech Aero 2015 anticipates more than 300 participants around the globe with thought provoking Keynote lectures, Oral and Poster presentations. The attending delegates include Editorial Board Members of related OMICS Group Journals.

Conference Highlights:

  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Aerodynamics
  • Airship Design and Development
  • Flight Vehicle Navigation
  • Design and Development of Aircrafts
  • Design and Modelling of Aircraft and Helicopter Engines
  • Robotics and Mechatronics
  • Design and Development of Rockets
  • Space Engineering
  • Bioengineering and Bio-Mechanics
  • Material Processing
  • Energy Processing
  • Mechanics, Dynamics and Controls
  • Heat Transfer Systems
  • Applications in Aerospace Technology


Importance & Scope:

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is an emerging and challenging field in today's world. The mission of the event is to educate the nation's future leaders in the science and art of mechanical and aerospace engineering and to expand the frontiers of engineering science.

Mech Aero 2015 is an international podium for presenting research about mechanical and aerospace engineering and exchanging thoughts about it and thus, contributes to the propagation of information in both the academia and business.

Mech Aero 2015 unites applications from various scientific disciplines, pushing the frontiers of Mechanical, Aerospace, Aerodynamics and Aeronautics. It represents the huge area where the focus lies on developing product-related technologies with rapid advancement in research in recent years. It is true that fundamental work on materials has turned up with unexpected momentous discoveries, but more frequently, the importance and significance can be gauged by the fact that it has made huge advancements over the course of time and is continuing to influence various sectors.

Glance at Market of Aerospace and Mechanical:

Key data shows that Mechanical Engineering is one of the major branches of industry in the EU-27 with a share of around 9.1% of all manufacturing industries, as measured by production. The U.S. aerospace industry contributed $118.5 billion in export sales to the U.S. economy. The global commercial aerospace seating market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.2% over 2015-2020.

In 2012, the U.S. aerospace industry contributed $118.5 billion in export sales to the U.S. economy.  The industry’s positive trade balance of $70.5 billion is the largest trade surplus of any manufacturing industry and came from exporting 64.3 percent of all aerospace production. Industry estimates indicate that the annual increase in the number of large commercial airplanes during the next 20 years will be 3.5 percent per year for a total of 34,000 valued at $4.5 trillion (list prices).

U.S. machinery industries had total domestic and foreign sales of $413.7 billion in 2011. The United States is the world’s largest market for machinery, as well as the third largest supplier.  American manufacturers held a 58.5 percent share of the U.S. domestic market. More than 1.3 million Americans were employed directly in manufacturing machinery and equipment in August 2013.  These jobs are almost entirely in high-skill, well-compensated professions and trades.   Machinery manufacturing also supports the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a variety of other manufacturing and service industries.

Why Attend:

With members from around the globe focused on wisdom about mechanical and aerospace, this is the most outstanding opportunity to reach the largest collection of participants from mechanical and aerospace community. They can organize workshop, exhibit , platform for networking and enhance their brand at the conference.

For more information, visit: mechanical-aerospace.conferenceseries.com

Published in OMICS Group

Aerojet Rocketdyne has recently completed a successful series of hot-fire tests of key additively manufactured components for its AR1 booster engine at its Sacramento test facility. The testing of the main injector elements represents another important milestone in the development of the AR1 engine and the company's commitment to having a certified engine in production in 2019.

The AR1 is a 500,000 lbf thrust-class liquid oxygen/kerosene booster engine currently in development as an American-made alternative to engines such as the foreign-supplied RD-180. The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act calls for the Russian-built RD-180 to be replaced by an American-made alternative for national security space launches by 2019. Started in 2014, and building off a strong base of past oxygen-rich, staged combustion experience attained through decades of technology development programs as well as our recent AFRL Hydrocarbon Boost Technology Demonstration and the NASA Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration/Risk Reduction program, the AR1 program is an aggressive effort aimed at delivering a flight-qualified engine in 2019. A similar development timeline was accomplished by Aerojet Rocketdyne on the commercially-developed RS-68 booster engine.

"We believe the AR1 is the best, most affordable option to eliminate U.S. dependence on foreign sources of propulsion while maintaining assured access to space for our nation's critical national security and civil space assets," said Linda Cova, executive director of Hydrocarbon Engine Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne. The AR1 is designed to integrate with the Atlas V launch vehicle, as well as provide a versatile propulsion solution for multiple current and future launch vehicle applications. "When you consider the minimal changes to the Atlas V launch vehicle, launch pad and related infrastructure that are required with an AR1 solution, this approach is clearly the best path toward finding a replacement for the RD-180 and meeting the launch needs of our nation," said Cova. "We look forward to working with the U.S. government in a competitive procurement environment to bring this engine to market."

The development of AR1 is currently being funded by Aerojet Rocketdyne with assistance from United Launch Alliance (ULA), with engine certification targeted for 2019. The cooperative development of AR1 represents the continuation of a long-standing relationship the companies have had in supporting U.S. launch requirements. Aerojet Rocketdyne and ULA continue to work to reduce costs of propulsion systems that support the Atlas and Delta launch vehicles such as the RS-68A, RL10 and AJ-60A, while maintaining demonstrated 100 percent mission success.

"Aerojet Rocketdyne is committed to delivering an RD-180 replacement by 2019, which is why the company is investing in the engine and inviting the Air Force, ULA and other key stakeholders to all major reviews so that engine certification can occur in parallel," added Cova.

Work on the AR1 full-scale design has been progressing steadily with the team achieving significant milestones over the past months, including the completion of a System Requirements Review, full-scale single-element main injector hot-fire testing, subscale preburner testing and turbopump inducer testing.

The single-element main injector hot-fire tests were conducted to evaluate various main injector element designs and fabrication methods. Several injectors were fabricated using Selective Laser Melting (SLM), a form of additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, enables the rapid production of complex engine components at a fraction of the cost of those produced using traditional manufacturing techniques. Aerojet Rocketdyne has invested heavily in developing SLM capabilities for application to its rocket engines. Tested in excess of 2,000 psi, Aerojet Rocketdyne believes the AR1 single-element hot-fire tests represent the highest pressure hot-fire test of an additively-manufactured part in a rocket engine application. In the main injector alone, additive manufacturing offers the potential for a nine month reduction in part lead times, and a 70 percent reduction in cost.

Completion of a vehicle-level system concept review and a main propulsion system Preliminary Design Review are planned major milestones for 2015.

For more information, visit: www.rocket.com/ar1-booster-engine

Published in Aerojet Rocketdyne

XPRIZE, the global leader in incentivized prize competition, announced that five Google Lunar XPRIZE teams have been awarded a combined US$5.25 million in recognition of key technological advancements toward their quest to land a private spacecraft on the surface of the moon. Determined by a judging panel of science, aeronautics and space industry experts that evaluated numerous tests over the past year, the Milestone Prizes honor hardware and software innovations needed to overcome technical risks in the three crucial areas—Imaging, Mobility and Landing systems—all of which are necessary to complete a successful Google Lunar XPRIZE mission.

The 9 awarded Milestone Prizes are as follows:

  • Astrobotic (US): IMAGING ($250,000), MOBILITY ($500,000), LANDING ($1M)
  • Hakuto (Japan): MOBILITY ($500,000)
  • Moon Express (US): IMAGING ($250,000), LANDING ($1M)
  • Part-Time Scientists (Germany): IMAGING ($250,000), MOBILITY ($500,000)
  • Team Indus (India): LANDING ($1M)

“The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is asking teams to accomplish a feat that has never been achieved—the safe landing of a private craft on the lunar surface that travels at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and imagery back to Earth,” said Robert K. Weiss, vice chairman and president, XPRIZE. “Congratulations to these five talented teams on winning Milestone Prizes. The goal of this unprecedented competition is to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration and these achievements represent a pivotal moment in this important journey back to the moon.”

"We would like to congratulate Astrobotic, Hakuto, Moon Express, Part-Time Scientists and Team Indus on their Milestone Prize Award wins, as well as the other 13 Google Lunar XPRIZE competitors, all of which continue to devote tireless dedication to this goal,” said Matt Hirst, Head of Brand Partnerships and Experiences, Google. “At Google, we passionately believe in the power of asking big questions and we are proud to support the efforts of those who push boundaries in science and society to create a better world.”

For each Milestone Prize category, teams carried out a number of hardware tests representative of their planned lunar mission, while sharing extensive design information and analysis with the judging panel. The Landing prizes have been awarded to teams that demonstrated advanced progress on their spacecraft that will land on the moon, the Mobility prizes recognize the vehicle that will need to move across the lunar surface and the Imaging prizes acknowledge the camera system needed to send high definition imagery and video to back to Earth.

Competing for the Milestone Prizes is an optional part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Teams that chose not to participate in the Milestone Prizes are still eligible to win the Grand or Second Place Prizes. The prize money for the Milestone Prizes will be deducted from any future Grand or Second Place Prize winnings of that team.

The deadline for the Google Lunar XPRIZE was officially extended until December 31, 2016. As part of this revised timeline, at least one team must provide documentation of a scheduled launch by December 31, 2015 for all teams to move forward in the competition.

The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth.

For more information, visit: lunar.xprize.org

Published in XPRIZE

3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced that it has been awarded two research contracts worth over $1 million dollars to develop advanced aerospace and defense 3D printing manufacturing capabilities at convincing scale. These contracts are administered by America Makes (the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) and funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The two contracts leverage 3DS’ proprietary Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Direct Metal 3D Printing (DMP) portfolio to meet the most demanding advanced manufacturing road map of the United States Air Force. Together with some of the nation’s leading military suppliers—including Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin—3D Systems will develop a precision closed loop and advanced manufacturing and monitoring platform, designed to deliver the accuracy, functionality and repeatability specifications demanded for flight worthy aerospace parts.

“The collaborative and forward looking initiative of America Makes members is driving extraordinary strides in 3D printing centric advanced manufacturing for this important industry,” commented Ralph Resnick, America Makes founding director and executive director. “America Makes is grateful for the support and funding from AFRL to enable important research like this.”

The first contract is led by 3DS, in partnership with the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Manufacturing (UDCCM), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) and Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMCO). The project is designed to integrate predictive technologies with 3DS’ SLS 3D printers to dynamically monitor parts at the layer level during the manufacturing process, ensuring optimum accuracy and repeatability of manufactured aerospace parts.

The second contract, in collaboration with the Applied Research Laboratory of Pennsylvania State University in partnership with Honeywell International and Northrop Grumman Corporation, leverages 3DS’ Direct Metal 3D printing. As a result of this project, aerospace and defense manufacturers will gain full control of every aspect of the direct metal manufacturing process at the layer level, delivering fully dense, chemically pure, flight worthy metals parts.

“These important research projects will position leading industry manufacturers to 3D print high-performance precision parts at convincing scale with enhanced functionality,” said Neal Orringer, Vice President of Alliances & Partnerships, 3DS. “3D Systems pioneered the use of advanced manufacturing for aerospace and defense applications and is proud to work with such esteemed partners to further advance these technologies and meet and exceed the future demands of the Air Force.”

Both projects are set to commence in early 2015.

For more information, visit: www.3dsystems.com

Published in 3D Systems

In 1941, Arthur M Young demonstrated a model helicopter flying on a tether while working for Bell Aircraft Corporation and just five years later, Bell Helicopter received the first-ever certification for a commercial helicopter. The Texas company has now made and sold more than 35,000 of the aircraft worldwide.

For some years, the company has used additive manufacturing (AM), otherwise known as 3D printing, to produce prototype components but wanted to use the technology to build functional parts. It turned to nearby AM bureau, Harvest Technologies, which uses more than 40 AM machines, to provide the expertise.

Before production could begin, Bell Helicopter and Harvest needed to prove out the processing capabilities of the latter’s EOSINT P 730 plastic laser-sintering machine from EOS that would be used to make the helicopter parts and to certify the platform for use in the aerospace industry. Heat distribution, powder degradation, dimensional accuracy, repeatability, component quality and performance, and the economics of manufacture were all examined.

Elliott Schulte, Engineer III at Bell Helicopter said, “We characterised the mechanical properties of each additively manufactured build so that we could confirm that the EOS system met our specification requirements and produced the same quality product each time.

“The systematic testing was done with a number of different materials and across a series of individual builds to establish that EOS technology was robust and highly repeatable.”

Subsequently, Bell Helicopter and Harvest began the meticulous process of manufacturing aerospace hardware, taking advantage of the freedom of design that comes with applying AM.

Christopher Gravelle, head of Bell Helicopter’s rapid prototyping lab commented, “Material characterisation is a critical consideration for us during design. For instance, if we are creating bosses for attachment points in additively manufactured nylon rather than metal, it is a new material and process and you cannot just use the same configuration.”

After a final review of the first component design for producibility, Bell Helicopter sent a 3D CAD model to Harvest to develop a build strategy. Before each batch was produced, rigorous pre-production inspections were carried out by Harvest, including checking that nitrogen leak rate was low, which is important for reducing waste and ensuring part quality.

Caleb Ferrell, quality manager at Harvest added, “After every build, we test for tensile and flexural properties of the components. This is a requirement for process assurance that we continuously monitor.

“The parts that we get have very good feature definition and the mechanical properties have been good as well. We are especially happy with the larger platform size and the nestability we are achieving.”

Currently, the helicopter manufacturer 3D prints parts mainly for its environmental control system (ECS) using EOS technology, but AM production is expanding. Bell Helicopter is interested in employing 3D printed components throughout the aircraft systems of its commercial helicopters.

Schulte added, “The ECS engineers who have gained experience with the material and the process are now communicating with teams involved in other functions, and those teams are starting to incorporate additively manufactured hardware into their assemblies.

"The EOS technology produces a robust and highly repeatable process that complies with our specification. We have done a number of conversions of aircraft parts from previous processes to AM. With the EOSINT P 730, we often discover that the production cost per piece is substantially reduced compared to conventional manufacturing methods.”

Bell Helicopter will also be evaluating AM of high-temperature plastics intended for more demanding roles and environments.

Ferrell explained, “In addition to the design advantages, there are significant manufacturing benefits with EOS technology. Tool-less manufacturing means you do not face certain limitations or up-front costs.

“If you need to change something, you can build new revisions simply by changing the CAD file – no moulds, no new machining tool paths and very little wasted time and money.”

“Because of the large build platform in the EOSINT P 730, we can print bigger components in one piece rather than in sections, eliminating assembly costs.”

Another advantage of the EOS system is the clean surface it produces, according to director of business development at Harvest, Ron Clemons. He explained that the EOSINT P 730 incorporates a software fix that provides crisper detail and smoother surfaces. As a result, there is relatively little peripheral powder melting and adhesion, so the desired quality of finish is achieved. There is consequently a saving in post-processing cost compared with the bureau’s other AM systems and lead-times are shorter.

An important secondary benefit of EOS technology is increased recyclability of the plastic powder. Other AM processes used by Harvest leave behind a significant amount of partially melted and therefore unusable powder, whereas more of the EOSINT P 730’s leftover powder can be reused.

Harvest has since acquired a second EOSINT P 730 and an EOSINT P 760 and is currently working with Bell Helicopter to implement the manufacture of one-off or two-off orders for spares, nested within the build volumes of existing batch production.

For more information, visit: Aerospace Case Study - Bell Helicopter

Published in EOS

World-leading helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca (Safran) is setting up new manufacturing capability at its facility in Bordes (France). After years of maturation and prototype testing, Turbomeca has entered serial production of parts using the latest additive manufacturing, or 3D printing process. Bordes facility is one of the first of its kind to serial produce additive components for aerospace propulsion industry in France.

Arrano test and production engines will feature fuel injector nozzles made using Selective Laser Melting (SLM) techniques. This leading-edge manufacturing process will also be used to manufacture Ardiden 3 combustor swirlers. These engines are Turbomeca’s latest models and amongst the most advanced turboshafts ever designed.

Additive manufacturing produces parts to a three-dimensional CAD (computer-aided design) model. Unlike traditional manufacturing processes (forging and machining) which are based on material removal, additive manufacturing builds layers, each between 20 and 100-micrometers thick, of fine metal powder to produce complex-shape parts. In the case of SLM, a computer-controlled laser shoots pinpoint beams onto a bed of nickel-based super-alloy powder, to melt the metal in the desired areas.

Additive Manufacturing also simplifies the manufacturing process. A traditional fuel-injector nozzle is made up from dozens different pieces. Arrano component is made from one single piece of material and features advanced injection and cooling functions. One SLM machine is already in service, and qualified for mass production, with others to be integrated over the coming years.

Additive manufacturing is part of Turbomeca’s ambitious “Future Line” programme designed to improve all its manufacturing capabilities. By introducing new, high-end machine tools and new processes like additive manufacturing and HVOF (High Velocity Oxy-Fuel) coatings, Turbomeca will significantly improve its compressor and turbine blade manufacturing capabilities at Bordes.

Turbomeca (Safran) is the leading helicopter engine manufacturer, and has produced 70,000 turbines based on its own designs since the company was founded. Offering the widest range of engines in the world and dedicated to 2,500 customers in 155 countries, Turbomeca provides a proximity service thanks to its 15 sites, 30 proximity maintenance centers, 18 Repair & Overhaul Centers, and 90 Field representatives and Field technicians. Microturbo, the subsidiary of Turbomeca, is the European leader in turbojet engines for missiles, drones and auxiliary power units.

For more information, visit: www.turbomeca.com

Published in SAFRAN

The BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car kit contains over 3,500 components, many custom-made, including: a state-of-the-art Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine - normally found in the Eurofighter Typhoon; a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets – developed to power the next generation of space launchers; a 550bhp Supercharged Jaguar V8 – used to pump the oxidiser into the rocket;  two unique Rolex instruments specially made for BLOODHOUND SSC;  a titanium skinned upper chassis;  a carbon fibre monocoque and canopy with 50mm thick windscreen; plus 22,500 aerospace-grade rivets, each hand-fixed.  Driver Andy Green and assembly instructions included.

One hundred and ten man-years have been invested in the design, build and manufacture of the BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car which is on track to challenge the Land Speed Record later this year in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa.

BLOODHOUND may be the world's fastest racing car but going fast is not its main role; as the focal point of The BLOODHOUND Project, it is to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers by showcasing these subjects in the most exciting way possible. Over 5,700 UK primary and secondary schools, and thousands more around the world, use BLOODHOUND materials in class in science clubs.  Our aim is for every school child in the UK to enjoy at least one BLOODHOUND lesson or experience by the time the car reaches its ultimate Land Speed Record goal of 1000mph in 2016.

Project Highlights:

• The world land speed record of 763 mph is held by Thrust SSC, a UK team led by BLOODHOUND’s Project Director Richard Noble and driven by Andy Green.

• The BLOODHOUND team scoured the globe to find the perfect desert to run the car on, it needed to be at least 12 miles (19km) long, two miles (3km) wide and perfectly flat. The Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa was selected.

• At full speed BLOODHOUND SSC will cover a mile (1.6km) in 3.6 seconds, that’s 4.5 football pitches laid end to end per second.

• BLOODHOUND has three power plants, a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet from a Eurofighter Typhoon, a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets and a 550 bhp Supercharged V8 Jaguar engine that drives the rocket oxidiser pump. Between them they generate 135,000 thrust hp, equivalant to 180 F1 cars.

• BLOODHOUND SSC is currently being assembled at the BLOODHOUND Technical Centre in Bristol, UK. It is on schedule for roll out summer 2015 where it will undergo UK runway testing up to 200 mph (321 km/h) at the Aerohub, Newquay. The Team will then deploy to South Africa to begin high speed testing with the target of reaching 800 mph (1,287 km/h). The Team will return to the UK to review the data and return to South Africa in 2016 with the aim of reaching 1,000 mph (1,609 km/h).

• Over 250 global companies, 180 of them SMEs, are involved in the Project, which has become a showcase for science and engineering capability.

• Over 5,700 UK primary and secondary schools have signed up to use the free BLOODHOUND Education resources in their classrooms

• The educational outreach programme also runs in South Africa with more than 600 schools already participating and more than 100 BLOODHOUND Ambassadors signed up to help use the project to inspire young people about studying maths and science. The programme reaches out to schools across the country, but particularly in the Northern Cape Province, home to the track where the BLOODHOUND SSC will run.

For more information, visit: www.bloodhoundssc.com

Published in BLOODHOUND SSC

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, has successfully completed a hot-fire test of its MPS-120™ CubeSat High-Impulse Adaptable Modular Propulsion System™ (CHAMPS™). The MPS-120 is the first 3D-printed hydrazine integrated propulsion system and is designed to provide propulsion for CubeSats, enabling missions not previously available to these tiny satellites. The project was funded out of the NASA Office of Chief Technologist's Game Changing Opportunities in Technology Development and awarded out of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. The test was conducted in Redmond, Washington.

"Aerojet Rocketdyne continues to push the envelope with both the development and application of 3-D printed technologies, and this successful test opens a new paradigm of possibilities that is not constrained by the limits of traditional manufacturing techniques," said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of Space Advanced Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

"The MPS-120 hot-fire test is a significant milestone in demonstrating our game-changing propulsion solution, which will make many new CubeSat missions possible," said Christian Carpenter, MPS-120 program manager. "We look forward to identifying customers to demonstrate the technology on an inaugural space flight."

The MPS-120 contains four miniature rocket engines and feed system components, as well as a 3D-printed titanium piston, propellant tank and pressurant tank. The MPS-120 is designed to be compatible with both proven hydrazine propellant and emerging AF-M315E green propellant. The system is upgradable to the MPS-130™ green propellant version through a simple swap of the rocket engines. The entire system fits into a chassis about the size of a coffee cup.

"Demonstrating the speed at which we can manufacture, assemble and test a system like this is a testament to the impact that proper infusion of additive manufacturing and focused teamwork can have on a product," said Ethan Lorimor, MPS-120 project engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "The demonstration proved that the system could be manufactured quickly, with the 3D printing taking only one week and system assembly taking only two days."

The MPS-120 demonstrated more than five times the required throughput on the engine and several full expulsions on the propellant tank. This demonstration test brought the system to Technology Readiness Level 6 and a Manufacturing Readiness Level 6. The next step in the MPS-120 product development is to qualify the unit and fly it in space.

This application of Additive Manufacturing (AM) is one example of Aerojet Rocketdyne's numerous efforts to apply existing AM techniques. It's a fully integrated cross-discipline effort ranging from basic process development to material characterization. The application also uses rigorous component and system level validation, enabling the benefits of AM with the reliability expected of traditional Aerojet Rocketdyne systems.

While the MPS-120 is Aerojet Rocketdyne's first 3D-printed integrated propulsion system, the company has previously conducted several successful hot-fire tests on 3D-printed components and engines. Those tests include an advanced rocket engine Thrust Chamber Assembly using copper alloy AM technology in October 2014; a series of tests on a Bantam demonstration engine built entirely with AM in June 2014; and a series of tests in July 2013 on a liquid-oxygen/gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly designed specifically for additive manufacturing.

For more information, visit: www.rocket.com/cubesat/mps-120

Published in Aerojet Rocketdyne

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will hold its Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, January 5-9, 2015 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Kissimmee, Florida.

AIAA SciTech 2015 combines 11 aerospace conferences under one roof and will draw registrants from nearly every field in the aerospace community. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear over 2,500 technical paper presentations – each debuting cutting-edge, world-leading aerospace technical and scientific research. The forum’s exposition will feature the latest in aerospace technology from more than 50 companies.

“AIAA SciTech 2015 will be the largest gathering of aerospace professionals in the world, with more than 3,000 members of the aerospace community coming together to collaborate, innovate, and shape the future of aerospace science and technology,” said AIAA President Jim Albaugh. “From its plenary and forum sessions, to its exposition and networking events – SciTech 2015 will be the catalyst for the changes and ideas that can better all of our lives.”

AIAA SciTech 2015’s speakers include some of the most important thought leaders, technical innovators and policymakers in aerospace today, including:

  • James N. Miller, president of Adaptive Strategies LLC, and former under secretary of defense for policy, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Alton "Al" Romig, vice president, engineering and advanced systems, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
  • Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer, SpaceX
  • David E. Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology, and Engineering, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Wesley Harris, Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Robert Pearce, director, strategy, architecture and analysis, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Ashok N. Srivastava, chief data scientist, Verizon.

AIAA SciTech 2015’s plenary sessions will tackle some of the most critical questions facing the future of our community: What should our nation’s science and technology policies be? How will emerging actors in the international aerospace community drive competition and technology advancement? What is the future of design in our community—and what are we likely to see in the years ahead as technology and scientific knowledge continue to evolve? How can we assure that the future workforce will be diverse, vibrant, and able to meet the needs of employers?

AIAA SciTech 2015’s Forum 360 program will examine other areas of interest to the aerospace community in depth, including: a look at what’s ahead on the U.S. government’s aerospace technology roadmap; considering how “big data” will impact aerospace; thinking about how aerospace can help ensure “environmental security”; hearing how the “Digital System Model” will transform the future of acquisition; and looking at the emerging concepts in aerospace design.

For more information, visit: www.aiaa-scitech.org

Published in AIAA

Registration now is open for NASA's Cube Quest Challenge, the agency’s first in-space competition that offers the agency’s largest-ever prize purse.

Competitors have a shot at a share of $5 million in prize money and an opportunity to participate in space exploration and technology development, to include a chance at flying their very own CubeSat to the moon and beyond as secondary payload on the first integrated flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

"NASA's Cube Quest Challenge will engage teams in the development of the new technologies that will advance the state of the art of CubeSats and demonstrate their capabilities as viable deep space explorers," said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Prize competitions like this engage the general public and directly contribute to NASA's goals while serving as a tool for open innovation."

Challenge objectives include designing, building and delivering flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the moon. The challenge and prize purse are divided into three major areas:

  • Ground Tournaments: $500,000 in the four qualifying ground tournaments to determine who will have the ability to fly on the first SLS flight;

  • Lunar Derby: $3 million for demonstrating the ability to place a CubeSat in a stable lunar orbit and demonstrate communication and durability near the moon; and

  • Deep Space Derby: $1.5 million for demonstrating communication and CubeSat durability at a distance greater than almost 2.5 million miles (4,000,000 km), 10 times the distance from the Earth to the moon

The Cube Quest Challenge seeks to develop and test subsystems necessary to perform deep space exploration using small spacecraft. Advancements in small spacecraft capabilities will provide benefits to future missions and also may enable entirely new mission scenarios, including future investigations of near-Earth asteroids.

"Cube Quest is an important competition for the agency as well as the commercial space sector," said Eric Eberly, deputy program manager for Centennial Challenges at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "If we can produce capabilities usually associated with larger spacecraft in the much smaller platform of CubeSats, a dramatic improvement in the affordability of space missions will result, greatly increasing science and research possibilities."

All teams may compete in any one of the four ground tournaments. Teams that rate high on mission safety and probability of success will receive incremental awards. The ground tournaments will be held every four to six months and participation is required to earn a secondary payload spot on SLS.

The Lunar Derby focuses primarily on propulsion for small spacecraft and near-Earth communications, while the Deep Space Derby focuses on finding innovative solutions to deep space communications using small spacecraft. Together, these competitions will contribute to opening deep space exploration to non-government spacecraft.

NASA's Centennial Challenges Program is part of the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is responsible for innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use on future NASA missions. During the next 18 months, the directorate will make significant new investments to address several high-priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep space exploration. The challenges help find the most innovative solutions to technical challenges through competition and cooperation. There have been 24 Centennial Challenges events since 2005. NASA has awarded more than $6 million to 16 challenge-winning teams.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/cubequest

Published in NASA

History was made on the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday morning when the first 3D printer built to operate in space successfully began manufacturing. This is the first time that hardware has been additively manufactured in space, as opposed being launched from Earth.

“When the first human fashioned a tool from a rock, it couldn’t have been conceived that one day we’d be replicating the same fundamental idea in space,” said Aaron Kemmer, CEO, Made In Space, Inc. “We look at the operation of the 3D printer as a transformative moment, not just for space development, but for the capability of our species to live off Earth.”

The first part made in space is a functional part of the printer itself - a faceplate for its own extruder printhead. “This ‘First Print’ serves to demonstrate the potential of the technology to produce replacement parts on demand if a critical component fails in space,” said Jason Dunn, Chief Technical Officer for Made In Space.

For the entirety of the space program, tools and parts have been built on Earth and required a rocket to get to space. The presence of a 3D printer onboard the ISS will allow hardware designs to be made on Earth and then digitally beamed to the space station, where the physical object will be created in a matter of hours. “For the first time, it’s no longer true that rockets are the only way to send hardware to space,” said Mike Chen, Chief Strategy Officer for Made In Space.

The “3D Printing in Zero-Gravity Experiment” is being jointly conducted by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and Made In Space, which designed and built the 3D printer for NASA through their Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“The ISS has provided us with an ideal laboratory for demonstrating this game-changing technology that will not only benefit the station, but will also enable sustainable deep space missions,” said Niki Werkheiser, program manager for the project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Following the initial printing phase, NASA and Made In Space will be conducting additional additive manufacturing experiments onboard ISS. A second printer will be launched to the ISS next year, which will serve as an invaluable tool for astronauts, government and also commercial businesses on Earth.

“In 1957, Sputnik became the first man-made object in space and, 12 years later, that led to humans setting foot on the moon,” said Kemmer. “Now, in 2014, we’ve taken another significant step forward – we’ve started operating a machine that will lead us to continual manufacturing in space. Decades from now, people will look back to this event…it will be seen as the moment when the paradigm of how we get hardware to space changed.”

For more information, visit: www.madeinspace.us/nasa-and-made-in-space-inc-make-history-by-successfully-3d-printing-first-object-in-space

Published in MADE IN SPACE

RedEye, a Stratasys Company (Nasdaq:SSYS) has partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to 3D print 30 antenna array supports for the FORMOSAT-7 Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC-2) satellite mission.

Scheduled for launch in 2016, the COSMIC-2 mission marks the first time 3D printed parts will function externally in outer space. The antenna arrays will capture atmospheric and ionospheric data to help improve weather prediction models and advance meteorological research on Earth.

In order to keep the project on time and on budget, JPL needed an alternative to machining the parts out of astroquartz, the material traditionally used for the arrays. They turned to RedEye to produce 3D printed parts that could handle the complex array designs and also be strong enough to withstand the demands of outer space.

RedEye built the custom-designed parts using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), the only additive manufacturing process able to meet the project’s strength and load requirements. JPL chose durable ULTEM 9085 material, a thermoplastic that has similar strength to metals like aluminum but weighs much less.

“Using FDM for a project like this has never been done before and it demonstrates how 3D printing is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry,” said Jim Bartel, vice president and general manager at RedEye. “If this technology can be validated for use in the harsh environment of outer space, its capabilities are seemingly endless for projects here on Earth.”

While ULTEM 9085 has been well-vetted in the aerospace industry and is flammability rated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it has not previously been used or tested for an exterior application in space. The material passed qualification testing to meet NASA class B/B1 flight hardware requirements. To protect the antenna array supports against oxygen atoms and ultraviolet radiation, a layer of NASA’s S13G protective paint was applied to the parts.

“The intricate design of the arrays and the durability of ULTEM 9085 made additive manufacturing a perfect choice for this project,” said Joel Smith, strategic account manager for aerospace and defense at RedEye. “Not only did it prove the strength of 3D printed parts, but using FDM to build these supports significantly reduced time and cost.”

Learn more about how RedEye and JPL used FDM to build parts to meet these unique specifications by reading the case study.

For more information, visit: www.redeyeondemand.com/3d-printing-case-studies/nasa-3d-printed-satellite

Published in Stratasys

Today’s innovations in science and technology are being driven by new capabilities in additive manufacturing.  Also known as 3-D printing, this approach is changing the speed, cost and flexibility of designing and building future machines for space and earth applications.

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program in the Space Technology and Mission Directorate has been actively funding research in 3-D printing and co-funded a recent groundbreaking test series with Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. Recently, AR in partnership with NASA, successfully completed the first hot-fire tests on an advanced rocket engine thrust chamber assembly using copper alloy materials.  This was the first time a series of rigorous tests confirmed that 3-D manufactured copper parts could withstand the heat and pressure required of combustion engines used in space launches.

In all, NASA and AR conducted 19 hot-fire tests on four injector and thrust chamber assembly configurations, exploring various mixture ratios and injector operability points and were deemed fully successful against the planned test program.

“The successful hot fire test of subscale engine components provides confidence in the additive manufacturing process and paves the way for full scale development,” says Tyler Hickman, lead engineer for the test at Glenn.

The work is a major milestone in the development and certification of different materials used in this manufacturing process.  According to AR, copper alloys offer unique challenges to the additive manufacturing processes.  The microstructure and material properties can be well below typical copper. So they have worked through a regimented process to optimize and lock down processing characteristics and have performed rigorous materials tests to know how the alloy performs structurally.

“Additively manufactured metal propulsion components are truly a paradigm shift for the aerospace industry,” says Paul Senick, Glenn project manager. “NASA and its commercial partners continue to invest in additive manufacturing technologies, which will improve efficiency and bring down the cost of space launches and other earth applications.”

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/home

Published in NASA

Michael Maher of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will deliver a keynote speech on the potential of flexible manufacturing for aerospace at the 2015 AeroDef Manufacturing Conference + Exposition.

The concept of flexible manufacturing is gaining interest among aerospace manufacturers who are seeking ways to maximize capacity when demand is low, as it is now in the defense sector, and drive down production costs when demand is high, as it is now in the commercial sector.

DARPA, the research arm of the Department of Defense, is credited for development of many technology breakthroughs, including the Internet and global positioning satellite (GPS) technology. Maher is in the Defense Sciences Office where he is exploring lightweight, multifunctional material systems. Maher’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with industry experts on the topic.

AeroDef is developed in partnership with the largest original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and SME, an organization dedicated to supporting manufacturing through training, events, media and membership.

Registration is now open for AeroDef 2015, which will be held April 20-23 at the Hilton Anatole, Dallas, with exhibits open April 21-22. The new location was selected for its proximity to the thousands of aerospace and defense companies throughout the Southwest. Given the surge in demand for aircraft, AeroDef is increasingly important for those making capital investments for their enterprise.

“Anyone with an interest in aerospace will have something to gain from attending AeroDef, whether they’re looking for new knowledge and technologies to increase production and delivery times, or to meet the people who influence the industry’s future,” according to George N. Bullen, president/CEO, Smart Blades Inc.

The OEMs support AeroDef as a way to collaborate with suppliers across the extended manufacturing enterprise and to find integrated solutions necessary for long-term competitiveness. The exhibits, speakers, panel discussions and technical conference will focus on issues and technologies critical to the industry, including the digital tapestry in manufacturing, additive manufacturing and the use of advanced materials in aircraft.

The exposition floor is arranged by technology zones:

  • Composites, metals and advanced materials.
  • Contract manufacturing services.
  • Precision machining and tooling.
  • Finishing and coatings.
  • Quality, measurement and inspection.
  • Integrated assembly and robotics.
  • Digital and additive manufacturing/3D printing.

Technical conference tracks are:

  • Composites manufacturing and advanced materials.
  • Additive manufacturing/3D printing.
  • Integrated assembly and robotics.
  • Precision machining and tooling.


For more information or to register, visit: www.aerodefevent.com

Published in SME

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, successfully completed a series of hot-fire tests on an advanced rocket engine Thrust Chamber Assembly (TCA) using copper alloy additive manufacturing technology. This testing, conducted for the first time in the industry, was done with cooperation between Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate Game-Changing Development Program and NASA's Glenn Research Center under a Space Act Agreement.

"This work represents another major milestone in the integrated development and certification of the materials characterization, manufacturing processes, analysis and design-tool technologies that are required to successfully implement Selective Laser Melting for critical rocket engine components," said Jay Littles, director of Advanced Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "Aerojet Rocketdyne continues to expand the development of novel material and design solutions made possible through additive manufacturing, which will result in more efficient engines at lower costs. We are working a range of additive manufacturing implementation paths - from affordability and performance enhancement to legacy products such as the RL10 upper stage engine. We also are applying the technology to next-generation propulsion systems, including the Bantam Engine family, as well as our new large, high performance booster engine, the AR1."

The hot-fire tests used Aerojet Rocketdyne's proprietary Selective Laser Melting copper alloy enhanced heat transfer design chamber, which demonstrated a significant increase in performance over traditional combustion chamber designs and material systems. "In all, NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne conducted 19 hot-fire tests on four injector and TCA configurations, exploring various mixture ratios and injector operability points. At the conclusion of the tests, the injector and chamber hardware were found to be in excellent condition, and test data correlated with performance predictions," said Lee Ryberg, lead project engineer on Aerojet Rocketdyne's Additive Manufacturing development team.

For more information, visit: www.rocket.com

Published in Aerojet Rocketdyne

Sciaky, Inc., a subsidiary of Phillips Service Industries, Inc. (PSI) and provider of large-scale additive manufacturing solutions, announced that it recently received a purchase order from Lockheed Martin Space Systems to provide a turnkey electron beam additive manufacturing (EBAM) system. The EBAM system will help Lockheed Martin reduce time and cost on the production of titanium propulsion tanks.

On July 10, Sciaky announced the availability of EBAM systems to the marketplace. This is the second multi-million dollar order from a major global manufacturing company since the announcement. In addition, Sciaky is working with over a dozen other companies and entities within the aerospace, defense and manufacturing sectors to provide EBAM systems for their unique needs.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of advanced-technology systems for national security, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include human space flight systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; fleet ballistic missiles; and missile defense systems.

Sciaky’s EBAM process combines computer-aided design (CAD), electron beam manufacturing technology and layer-additive processing. Starting with a 3D model from a CAD program, Sciaky's fully-articulated, moving electron beam gun deposits metal (via wire feedstock), layer by layer, until the part reaches near-net shape. From there, the near-net shape part requires minor post-production machining. The 110” x 110” x 110” (L x W x H) build envelope of the EBAM system will allow Lockheed Martin to produce large titanium parts, with virtually no waste.

“Sciaky is proud to partner with a progressive leader like Lockheed Martin Space Systems” said Mike Riesen, general manager of Sciaky, Inc. “Sciaky’s EBAM technology will help Lockheed Martin significantly reduce material costs, lead times, and machining times.”

Besides offering innovative additive manufacturing solutions for metal parts, Sciaky provides state-of-the-art electron beam and advanced arc welding systems, as well as job shop/contract welding services, for manufacturers in the aerospace, defense, automotive, and healthcare industries. Sciaky’s welding equipment meets rigid military specifications to manufacture items such as airframes, landing gear, jet engines, guided missiles and vehicle parts.

For information, visit: www.sciaky.com

Published in Sciaky

America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In recent years, a growing number of Americans have gained access to technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, easy-to-use design software, and desktop machinery. These tools are enabling more Americans to design and make almost anything, and the applications to space exploration will help our astronauts to be less reliant on materials from Earth as they explore farther out into the solar system.

NASA in conjunction with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation, has issued a series of "Future Engineers" 3D Space Challenges for students focused on solving real-world space exploration problems. Students will become the creators and innovators of tomorrow by using 3D modeling software to submit their designs and have the opportunity for their design to be printed on the first 3D printer aboard the International Space Station. The winning student will watch from NASA’s Payload Operations Center with the mission control team as the item is printed in space.

The Design a Space Tool Challenge is the first in series of challenges where students in grades K-12 will create and submit a digital 3D model of a tool that they think astronauts need in space. Future Engineers is a multi-year education initiative that consists of 3D Space Challenges and curriculum videos on the site that parents and educators can use to get kids designing today.

NASA’s 3D Printing in Zero-G ISS Technology Demonstration will demonstrate the capability of utilizing a Made In Space 3D printer for in-space additive manufacturing technology. This is the first step toward realizing an additive manufacturing, print-on-demand “machine shop” for long-duration missions and sustaining human exploration of other planets, where there is extremely limited ability and availability of Earth-based logistics support. If an astronaut tool breaks, future space pioneers won’t be able to go to the local hardware store to purchase a replacement, but with 3D printing they will be able to create their own replacement or create tools we’ve never seen before. For NASA as well as the Maker community, 3D printing provides end-to-end product development.

NASA and the ASME Foundation will work together to inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts by highlighting student’s 3D designs submissions in Maker Community Challenge Showcases and in on online open hardware design repository.

For more information, visit: www.futureengineers.org

Published in NASA

It’s not quite the replicator of Star Trek fame—but it’s seemingly a step in that direction. The first 3D printer is soon to fly into Earth orbit, finding a home aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The size of a small microwave, the unit is called Portal. The hardware serves as a test bed for evaluating how well 3D printing and the microgravity of space combine. Its use in space signals an new era of off-world manufacturing.

The foundation for 3D printing is also known as “additive manufacturing," which has been evolving for more than three decades. The technology has picked up speed more recently due to new materials and new applications. A 3D printer works by extruding heated plastic, and then builds successive layers to make a three-dimensional object. In essence, this test on the ISS might well lead to establishing a “machine shop” in space. The technology demonstration will print objects in the space station’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. The soon-to-fly 3D printer can churn out plastic objects within a span of 15 minutes to an hour.

The company behind the Portal 3D printer is Made In Space—a fitting name for this Silicon Valley team comprised of entrepreneurs, space experts and key 3D printing developers. Made In Space is located in the research park at NASA’s Ames Research Center in northern California. Made In Space was formed in 2010 with the goal of enabling humanity’s future in space, focused on additive manufacturing technology for use in the space environment. According to the group, manufacturing assets in space, as opposed to launching them from Earth, will accelerate and broaden space development while providing unprecedented access for people on Earth to use in-space capabilities.

To be lofted into space aboard SpaceX’s next Dragon resupply mission to the ISS, the made-for-space 3D printer is a product of extensive development work. That effort entailed affiliations between NASA and Made In Space over the years, supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, research and development contracts under NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. For example, working with NASA, Made In Space chalked up over 30,000 hours of 3D printing technology testing, and 400-plus parabolas of airborne microgravity test flights. Now the 3D printer is ready for liftoff.

The 3D printer experiment is being done under the tech directorate's Game Changing Development Program, a NASA thrust that seeks to identify and rapidly mature innovative/high impact capabilities and technologies for infusion in a broad array of future NASA missions.

The International Space Station Technology Development Office at the agency's Johnson Space Center provided the Made In Space team a list of some 20 parts they'd like to be able to manufacture in space. Most of the print designs for those parts have been pre-loaded onto the printer. A couple of print designs will be uplinked to the ISS and then printed.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Published in NASA

SME, an organization dedicated to advancing manufacturing, is seeking industry professionals with subject-matter expertise to speak at 2015 AeroDef Manufacturing with Composites Manufacturing, a groundbreaking event and manufacturing conference solely devoted to commercial and defense aerospace manufacturing. The event will be held April 20-23 at the Hilton Anatole, Dallas, with exhibits open April 21-22.

The leading aerospace original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, have supported AeroDef since 2011 as a way to collaborate with suppliers across the extended manufacturing enterprise and to find integrated solutions necessary for long-term competitiveness. Given the surge in aircraft demand from U.S. and overseas customers, as well as high requirements from defense customers, high-level attendees will come to AeroDef seeking information, technologies and applications that can shorten manufacturing production and delivery cycles.

Composites Manufacturing joins AeroDef in 2015 due to the overwhelming industry demand for materials of lighter weights, increased strengths, and greater heat and corrosion resistance.

Presentations should address educational tracks listed below that correspond to the technologies represented on the show floor.

  • Additive Manufacturing & 3D Printing: Computer-integrated technologies that design, manufacture, test and simulate together with rapid and additive technologies.
  • Composites Manufacturing & Advanced Materials: High-performance materials and the manufacturing processes that make them possible for commercial and military aircraft.
  • Integrated Assembly & Robotics: Advanced techniques for manufacturing and assembly that enable commercial aerospace and defense suppliers to meet stringent cost targets, quality requirements and time constraints for increased production.
  • Precision Machining & Tooling: Manufacturing of high-tolerance parts using advanced materials that feature complex surfaces, thin walls and challenging part geometries.
  • Contract Manufacturing Services: The full spectrum of services for supplier partnering.
  • Finishing & Coatings: Extreme Environments &  Survivability: Aerospace and defense coatings technology that can increase stealth endurance, quality and performance in a high-stress environment.
  • Quality, Measurement & Inspection: Advanced inspections, quality control, validation methods and equipment for mission-critical operations.


The deadline for submitting the presentation abstracts is Oct. 13, 2014. Members of the AeroDef Conference Committee will review all submissions. They include senior manufacturing executives at Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman, GE Aviation and ATK Aerospace, among others.

For more information, visit: www.aerodefevent.com/call-for-speakers

Published in SME

The current generation of satellites includes metal brackets that serve as a link between the body of a satellite and the carbon fibre reflectors and feed array mounted at the upper end. Engineers at the Spanish arm of EADS Group division, Airbus Defence and Space, is using additive manufacturing equipment from EOS to produce the retaining brackets at its competence centre for composite materials in Madrid.

The brackets must fix securely to the satellite body and withstand high thermal stresses caused by extreme temperature fluctuations in space, ranging from -180°C to +150°C. Titanium is the material of choice for such applications due to its thermal conductivity properties and high strength-to-weight ratio. The latter is especially important, as every kilogram carried into space costs many thousands of dollars, often running into six figures depending on the carrier system and the orbit to be reached.

Brackets manufactured by conventional metalcutting did not meet the requirements of Airbus Defence and Space, as design limitations prevented optimisation of the weight of the component and the stresses. Moreover it was very time consuming, so costs needed to be reduced.

Additive manufacturing technology from EOS was selected as an alternative production method. The bracket is built up from successive layers of metal powder that are melted and hardened by a laser beam driven by data that originates from the CAD model of the part. Titanium is still usable as a tried and tested material and the process allows the design of components to be adapted easily.

Otilia Castro Matías, who is responsible for antennae at Airbus Defence and Space in Madrid explained, "Additive manufacture has two main advantages. We are not only able to optimise the design of parts but can also produce them in one piece.

“When the precision workpiece is complete, no excess material remains except for raw titanium powder that can be reused in our EOSINT M 280.”

The new devices meet all expectations of the experts involved. Most important of all is the improved temperature resistance of the entire structure, which now can easily and permanently withstand a 330°C temperature variation under a force of 20 kN. In addition, production time for the three brackets required for each satellite has been reduced by five days to less than one month.

Mr Matías added, "Thanks to additive manufacturing, we were able to redesign the bracket and eliminate the vulnerability caused by thermal stress at the interface with the carbon fibre panel.

"The improvements also significantly reduced thermally induced failure during the qualification test campaign. The cost of space activities is relatively high, so it is especially important to protect any hardware from possible failure.

"Additive manufacturing brought measurable benefits to critical aspects of the project without requiring cuts to be made elsewhere, so there were no compromises – something engineers don’t get to hear very often.

“In addition, cost savings in bracket production amounted to more than 20 per cent and the weight was reduced by about 300 grams, which means a saving of nearly one kilogram per satellite.”

The European Space Agency (ESA) supported this program, the successful completion of which allows further use of this efficient production technology in the field of aerospace.

Airbus Defence and Space, a division of Airbus Group, was formed on 1st January 2014 by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise and the second largest space business worldwide.

One of the titanium brackets, additively manufactured in an EOSINT M 280, that connects the body of a satellite with the carbon fibre panel of the reflectors and feeder facilities at the upper end.

Published in EOS

Building on the great success of the inaugural Additive Aerospace Summit last year, Infocast has announced the annual second Additive/Aerospace Summit 2014, scheduled for November 3-6, 2014, taking place in Downtown Los Angeles.

Direct part production in metals (and other advanced materials) is the new frontier of aerospace. Every week a new breakthrough is touted: turbine, injector, fuel vessel, wing span. Air forces, OEMs, MRO players and “New Space” startups are growing their use of additive for a wide range of parts, whether it be for ultimate use in passenger or cargo planes, fighter jets, rockets, helicopters, UAVs, satellites, and perhaps someday, …entire space stations? However, aerospace is exacting in the extreme when it comes to materials, and additively produced materials have new properties. Intensive coordination between all stakeholders must take place before additively made parts can be qualified for flight, and the full market unleashed for these new solutions.

Top Officials, R&D directors, additive program managers and thought leaders including:

AIRBUS ¦ BOEING ¦ LOCKHEED MARTIN ¦ SIKORSKY ¦ GKN AEROSPACE ¦ PRATT & WHITNEY ¦ NASA ¦ AGC AEROSPACE & DEFENSE ¦ BELL HELICOPTER ¦ RAYTHEON ¦ DELTA AIRLINES ¦ SPACE SYSTEMS/LORAL ¦ ORBITAL SCIENCES ¦ MET-L-FLO ASTM F42 COMMITTEE ¦ NLR ¦ TNO ¦ SINTEF RAUFOSS MANUFACTURING AS ¦ NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL CANADA ¦ UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE ¦ 3DSIM LLC ¦ PENN STATE UNIVERSITY ¦ AMERICAN WELDING SOCIETY ¦ NAYANG TECH UNIVERSITY ¦ TETHERS UNLIMITED ¦ AREVO LABS ¦ NORTHERN ILLINIOS UNIVERSITY ¦ WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY ¦ MISSOURI UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE & TECHONOLOGY ¦ GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY ¦ STRATONICS INC. ¦ HARVEST TECHNOLOGIES ¦ EOS OF N.A. ¦ VARIA 3D ¦ FABRISONIC LLC ¦ I3D MANUFACTURING and many more, will gather to share their plans, programs, requirements and timelines for what they need collectively to drive this emerging industry forward.

The Summit will be preceded by FOUR sessions covering the technical challenges, capabilities, and solutions for this white hot innovation sector.

  • Incodema3D’s Laser Metals for Direct Parts Tutorial | November 3, 2014
  • Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace 101 Workshop | November 4, 2014
  • Qualification Technical Symposium | November 4, 2014
  • Direct Manufacturing Platforms Showcase | November 4, 2014

This will be the premiere networking event of the year for decision-makers to prepare for extreme acceleration in 2015!

For more information or to register, visit: www.infocastinc.com/events/add-aero

Published in Infocast

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, was recently awarded a contract by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base through the Defense Production Act Title III Office for large-scale additive manufacturing development and demonstration. The contract will secure multiple large selective laser melting machines to develop liquid rocket engine applications for national security space launch services. Aerojet Rocketdyne and its subcontractors will design and develop larger scale parts to be converted from conventional manufacturing to additive manufacturing (3D printing).

“Our liquid rocket engines have been used for half a century and our products are highly efficient and complex with a safety and reliability record that is unparalleled,” said Jeff Haynes, program manager of Additive Manufacturing at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “Incremental manufacturing advances have been applied over the history of these programs with great success. Additive manufacturing shifts these advances into high gear and ultimately transforms how these engines are produced.”

“We have developed and successfully demonstrated additive-manufactured hardware over the last four years but the machines have been limited in size to 10-inch cubes,” said Steve Bouley, vice president of Space Launch Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “These next generation systems are about six times larger, enabling more options for our rocket engine components. We are extremely honored to have received this contract, and foresee the day when additive-manufactured engines are used to boost and place important payloads into orbit. The end result will be a more efficient, cost-effective engine.”

Under the contract, Aerojet Rocketdyne will demonstrate three different alloys with these larger additive manufacturing machines to include nickel, copper and aluminum alloys. Parts ranging from simple, large ducts to complex heat exchangers are planned to be demonstrated in full scale. The program scope is expected to replace the need for castings, forgings, plating, machining, brazing and welding.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a diversified company that provides innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense, and real estate markets.

For more information, visit: www.Rocket.com

Published in Aerojet Rocketdyne

By the end of September, NASA aerospace engineer Jason Budinoff is expected to complete the first imaging telescopes ever assembled almost exclusively from 3-D-manufactured components.

“As far as I know, we are the first to attempt to build an entire instrument with 3-D printing,” said Budinoff, who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Under his multi-pronged project, funded by Goddard’s Internal Research and Development (IRAD) program, Budinoff is building a fully functional, 50-millimeter (2-inch) camera whose outer tube, baffles and optical mounts are all printed as a single structure. The instrument is appropriately sized for a CubeSat, a tiny satellite comprised of individual units each about four inches on a side. The instrument will be equipped with conventionally fabricated mirrors and glass lenses and will undergo vibration and thermal-vacuum testing next year.

Budinoff also is assembling a 350-millimeter (14-inch) dual-channel telescope whose size is more representative of a typical space telescope.

Budinoff is developing both to show that telescope and instrument structures can benefit from advances in additive manufacturing. With this technique, a computer-controlled laser melts and fuses metal powder in precise locations as indicated by a 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) model. Because components are built layer by layer, it is possible to design internal features and passages that could not be cast or machined using more traditional manufacturing approaches.

The goal isn’t to fly them, at least not yet. “This is a pathfinder,” Budinoff said. “When we build telescopes for science instruments, it usually involves hundreds of pieces. These components are complex and very expensive to build. But with 3-D printing, we can reduce the overall number of parts and make them with nearly arbitrary geometries. We’re not limited by traditional mill- and lathe-fabrication operations.”

In particular, the 2-inch instrument design involves the fabrication of four different pieces made from powdered aluminum and titanium. A comparable, traditionally manufactured camera would require between five and 10 times the number of parts, he said. Furthermore, the instrument’s baffling — the component that helps reduce stray light in telescopes — is angled in a pattern that instrument builders cannot create with traditional manufacturing approaches in a single piece.

When he completes the camera’s assembly at the end of the fiscal year — ready for space-qualification testing — the project will have taken a mere three months to complete for a fraction of the cost. “I basically want to show that additive-machined instruments can fly,” he said. “We will have mitigated the risk, and when future program managers ask, ‘Can we use this technology?’ we can say, ‘Yes, we already have qualified it.’”

Budinoff also wants to demonstrate that he can use powdered aluminum to produce 3-D-manufactured telescope mirrors — a challenge given how porous aluminum is, which makes it difficult to polish the surfaces. Under his plan, a 3-D-manufacturing vendor will fabricate an unpolished mirror blank appropriate for his two-inch instrument. He then will place the optic inside a pressure chamber filled with inert gas. As the gas pressure increases to 15,000 psi, the heated chamber in essence will squeeze the mirror to reduce the surface porosity — a process called hot isostatic pressing.

“We think this, combined with the deposition of a thin layer of aluminum on the surface and Goddard-developed aluminum stabilizing heat treatments, will enable 3-D-printed metal mirrors,” Budinoff said.

Should he prove the approach, Budinoff said NASA scientists would benefit enormously — particularly those interested in building infrared-sensing instruments, which typically operate at super-cold temperatures to gather the infrared light that can be easily overwhelmed by instrument-generated heat. Often, these instruments are made of different materials. However, if all the instrument’s components, including the mirrors, were made of aluminum, then many of the separate parts could be 3-D printed as single structures, reducing the parts count and material mismatch. This would decrease the number of interfaces and increase the instrument’s stability, Budinoff added.

Next year, he also plans to experiment with printing instrument components made of Invar alloy, a material being prepared for 3-D printing by Goddard technologist Tim Stephenson. The 100-year-old iron-nickel alloy offers extreme dimensional stability over a range of temperatures. The material is ideal for building super-stable, lightweight skeletons that support telescopes and other instruments.

“Anyone who builds optical instruments will benefit from what we’re learning here,” Budinoff said. “I think we can demonstrate an order-of-magnitude reduction in cost and time with 3-D printing.”

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov

Published in NASA

3-D printers can create all kinds of things, from eyeglasses to implantable medical devices, straight from a computer model and without the need for molds. But for making spacecraft, engineers sometimes need custom parts that traditional manufacturing techniques and standard 3-D printers can’t create, because they need to have the properties of multiple metals. Now, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are implementing a printing process that transitions from one metal or alloy to another in a single object.

“You can have a continuous transition from alloy to alloy to alloy, and you can study a wide range of potential alloys,” said R. Peter Dillon, a technologist at JPL. “We think it’s going to change materials research in the future.”

Although gradient alloys have been created in the past in research and development settings, this is the first time these composite materials have been used in making objects, such as a mount for a mirror, said John Paul Borgonia, a JPL mechanical engineer.

Why would you need to make a machine part like this? Say you want a metal object where you would like the ends to have different properties. One side could have a high melting temperature and the other a low density, or one side could be magnetic and the other not. Of course, you could separately make both halves of the object from their respective metals and then weld them together. But the weld itself may be brittle, so that your new object might fall apart under stress. That’s not a good idea if you are constructing an interplanetary spacecraft, for example, which cannot be fixed once it is deployed.

JPL scientists have been developing a technique to address this problem since 2010. An effort to improve the methods of combining parts made of different materials in NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, which safely landed the Curiosity rover on the Red Planet in 2012, inspired a project to 3-D print components with multiple alloy compositions.

Researchers from JPL, the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, and Pennsylvania State University, University Park, joined forces to tackle the issue. The result has implications for space travel and machinery on our own planet.

“We’re taking a standard 3-D printing process and combining the ability to change the metal powder that the part is being built with on the fly,” said Douglas Hofmann, a researcher in material science and metallurgy at JPL, and visiting associate at Caltech. “You can constantly be changing the composition of the material.”

In their new technique, Hofmann and his colleagues deposit layers of metal on a rotating rod, thus transitioning metals from the inside out, rather than adding layers from bottom to top, as in the more traditional 3-D printing technique. A laser melts metal powder to create the layers.

Future space missions may incorporate parts made with this technique. The auto industry and the commercial aerospace industry may also find it useful, Hofmann said.

A report on this work was published in Scientific Reports on June 19. Coauthors include Douglas Hofmann; Scott Roberts, Joanna Kolodziejska and Andrew A. Shapiro from Caltech and JPL; R. Peter Dillon, Jong-ook Suh, and John-Paul Borgonia from JPL; and Richard Otis and Zi-Kui Liu from Pennsylvania State University. The work was funded by NASA. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov

Published in NASA

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) announced today that it has completed qualification testing for the SuperDraco thruster, an engine that will power the Dragon spacecraft’s launch escape system and enable the vehicle to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy.

The qualification testing program took place over the last month at SpaceX’s Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas. The program included testing across a variety of conditions including multiple starts, extended firing durations and extreme off-nominal propellant flow and temperatures.

The SuperDraco is an advanced version of the Draco engines currently used by SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to maneuver in orbit and during re-entry. SuperDracos will be used on the crew version of the Dragon spacecraft as part of the vehicle’s launch escape system; they will also enable propulsive landing on land.  Each SuperDraco produces 16,000 pounds of thrust and can be restarted multiple times if necessary.  In addition, the engines have the ability to deep throttle, providing astronauts with precise control and enormous power.

The SuperDraco engine chamber is manufactured using state-of-the-art direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), otherwise known as 3D printing.  The chamber is regeneratively cooled and printed in Inconel, a high-performance superalloy that offers both high strength and toughness for increased reliability.

“Through 3D printing, robust and high-performing engine parts can be created at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional manufacturing methods,” said Elon Musk, Chief Designer and CEO.  “SpaceX is pushing the boundaries of what additive manufacturing can do in the 21st century, ultimately making our vehicles more efficient, reliable and robust than ever before.”

Unlike previous launch escape systems that were jettisoned after the first few minutes of launch, SpaceX’s launch system is integrated into the Dragon spacecraft.  Eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the Dragon spacecraft will produce up to 120,000 pounds of axial thrust to carry astronauts to safety should an emergency occur during launch.

As a result, Dragon will be able to provide astronauts with the unprecedented ability to escape from danger at any point during the ascent trajectory, not just in the first few minutes.  In addition, the eight SuperDracos provide redundancy, so that even if one engine fails an escape can still be carried out successfully.

The first flight demonstration of the SuperDraco will be part of the upcoming pad abort test under NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities (CCiCap) initiative. The pad abort will be the first test of SpaceX’s new launch escape system and is currently expected to take place later this year.

For more information, visit: www.spacex.com

Published in SpaceX

RedEye, by Stratasys (Nasdaq: SSYS), one of the world’s leading additive manufacturing service bureaus, recently partnered with Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company (SSC) to 3D print two large fuel tank simulators for a satellite form, fit and function validation test and process development. With the biggest tank measuring 15 feet long, the project marks one of the largest 3D printed parts RedEye has ever built.

With RedEye’s Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, the team developed the fuel tanks within a highly condensed time frame and at about half the cost of machining the parts. These rapid prototyping advantages will help Lockheed Martin bring its new design to market faster in a competitive contract bid process.

“With RedEye’s machine capacity and engineering support, we were able to successfully build these tank simulators in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost,” said Andrew Bushell, senior manufacturing engineer at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

The larger tank was built in 10 different pieces and the smaller in 6 different pieces using polycarbonate (PC) material. Combined, the fuel tanks took nearly two weeks to print, taking roughly 150 hours per section. Based on the sheer size of the parts, customized fixtures were required to support the structures as they were bonded together and shipped to be machined to meet specifications. Once all of the pieces were machined, the final assembly required 240 hours.

“This project is unique in two ways – it marks the first aerospace fuel tank simulation produced through additive manufacturing and is one of the largest 3D printed parts ever built,” stated Joel Smith, strategic account manager for aerospace and defense at RedEye. “Our ability to accommodate such a large configuration and adapt to design challenges on the fly, demonstrates that there really is no limit to the problem-solving potential when you manufacture with 3D printing.”

Lockheed Martin first embraced the design benefits of additive manufacturing with RedEye in 2012 and has invested in in-house 3D printers from RedEye’s parent company, Stratasys. RedEye has worked with Lockheed Martin on various tooling and additive manufacturing projects that support its Space Systems Company. The organizations are expected to partner on more 3D printing projects later this year.

For more information, visit: www.redeyeondemand.com/3d-printing-case-studies/lockheed-martin-3d-printing

Published in Stratasys

Scientists finally have their hands on a piece of Mars, sort of. Technology seemingly straight out of Star Trek allowed the replication of a rock on Mars using a 3D printer.

The result is a realistic looking, true-size facsimile of a martian meteorite called "Block Island." NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity found it in 2009. Block Island is the largest meteorite yet found on Mars. It is an iron-nickle meteorite about the size of a small ice chest. The real Block Island probably weighs a half-ton. You could easily carry its plastic twin under an arm.

Most meteorites break up when hitting the ground because today's martian atmosphere is not dense enough to slow them down enough. Scientists say this meteorite could have landed on Mars intact only if it had two things: a very specific entry point into the atmosphere and a very shallow flight path. That would slow it down enough to keep it from breaking apart upon landing.

This 3D-printer model of a meteorite is the first of its kind, made from precise measurements by a rover on Mars. It potentially opens the door to other detailed models of objects and terrain on Mars or elsewhere in the solar system. Researchers expect the technology will also find uses in other applications on Earth, such as life-size 3D reproductions of remote objects or settings.

Scientists based the design of the plastic meteorite on detailed measurements and stereo images taken by Opportunity's panoramic camera, or PanCam. The rover took pictures during its 360-degree study of Block Island five years ago. Researcher Kris Capraro works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He says one reason the rock could not be replicated back in 2009 is that the rover could not see every square inch of the meteorite. The missing data created holes in the computer model. That made the rock data unfit for 3D printing (stereolithography). The first model Capraro tried to make had lots of holes, so it wouldn't hold together. It looked like a partially melted plastic pot scrubber.

Last summer, said Capraro, researchers solved the problem of filling in the missing data and built several small models of the meteorite. "Holding one of these small models in your hand was very cool," said Capraro, "but to experience the meteorite that lay before Opportunity, it had to be BIG -- an actual-size model of the meteorite." Creating a life-size model was the only "natural" way to visualize fully what Opportunity beamed home as a 2D image to humankind on Earth."

The researchers applied software methods usually used to help navigate the rover. They created depth meshes of the meteorite's surface from six positions, then combined them into a three-dimensional digital model, said Capraro.

The 3D printer used for the project is a mainstream tool used in office and light industrial settings. It builds the model from a spool of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), a common plastic about the diameter of weed-whacker cord. To build the contour of the object it is replicating, the printer slowly heats the plastic and layers it precisely.

"It's been an interesting challenge to create the large 3D model," said Capraro, who also creates navigation maps of the Martian surface for planning rover drive paths. The rock was much bigger than the 3D printer's building space, about the size of the inside of a kitchen oven. To solve that problem, researchers broke up the computer model of the meteorite into 11 sections. It took 305 hours and 36 minutes to print the parts: 281.11 cubic inches of acrylic thermoplastic media and 37.29 cubic inches of plastic support media that forms the support structure inside the rock model. Then, researchers were ready to assemble the parts. Then they finished by painting it to match the real rock's color based on rover images. For now, said Capraro, "it's the next best thing to bringing back real Martian rock samples back to Earth."

For more information, visit: marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html

Published in NASA

The National Space and Missile Materials Symposium (NSMMS) and the Commercial and Government Responsive Access to Space Technology Exchange (CRASTE) bring together technologists, users, and decision makers from across the nation to discuss key technology issues related to space, missile, and hypersonic systems and a variety of ground-breaking commercial space topics necessary for our Country’s defense and research and development pursuits.  The event will take place at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL on the 23rd -26th of June 2014 and will feature over 150 technical presentations and posters.

This year’s Symposia features speakers such as, Dr. Steven Walker, Deputy Director, DARPA; Dr. Mike Gazarik, Associate Administrator NASA STMD; Major General Terrence Feehan, Vice Commander, Space & Missile Systems Center; Mr. Greg Hulcher, Strategic Warfare Director, OSD-ATL; Dr. Thomas Christian, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary (Science, Technology & Engineering), SAF/AQR; Dr. Dale Thomas, Associate Director, NASA MFSC; and Mr. James Lackey, Acting Director, AMRDEC.

On Monday of the event, a variety of tutorials and workshops covering ground-breaking research and technology are available, as well as a small business forum that facilitates the interaction of small businesses and universities with larger “prime" contractors based on similar interests relevant to NASA and the Department of Defense. Technical sessions beginning on Tuesday afternoon include topics such as heavy lift; hypersonics; in-space transportation & sub-orbital concepts & capabilities; planetary orbit and exploration technologies; range & ground operations; reducing cost, increasing safety; reusability; space access & propulsion; space materials experimentation, modeling, & simulation; systems integration; and thermal management/protection.

Accompanying this event, is a job board featuring space related jobs all over the U.S.  The site allows you to search by job title, company, location and job type (full time, permanent, etc.).  There is no cost to search the site or apply for jobs.  Employers can post jobs for a nominal fee.

Industry sponsors for the event include ATK; Boeing; Dynetics; i-3; MR&D; National Technology Transfer Center; Northrop Grumman; Plasma Processes; Prototype Today; Scot Forge; Southern Research Institute; Ultramet.

For more information or to register, visit: www.usasymposium.com/nsmms/default.htm or CRASTE at www.usasymposium.com/craste/default.htm

Published in Blue 52 Productions

The Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] Space Systems Advanced Technology Center (ATC) has opened a new state-of-the-art laboratories building that will enable the company to provide innovative technical solutions to customers with more agility and efficiency.

The Advanced Materials & Thermal Sciences Center, with 82,000 square feet of floor space, will house 130 engineers, scientists and staff. The new laboratories will host advanced research and development in emerging technology areas like 3-D printing, energetics, thermal sciences, nanotechnology, synthesis, high temperature materials and advanced devices.

“This magnificent new facility will be home to many of the innovative technologies that will help shape the future of space payloads, satellites and missile systems,” said Dr. Kenneth Washington, vice president of the ATC. “Scientists and engineers here are creating advanced materials like our CuantumFuse™ nano-copper, which promises to make more reliable electrical connections in space and other applications. We’re also perfecting technologies to manage the heat generated by on-board satellite sensors. Our new microcryocooler is the smallest satellite cooler ever developed, another example of the ground-breaking technologies we’re advancing in this lab.”

The new building was designed and constructed to achieve a Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices including sustainability; water efficiency; energy efficiency and atmospheric quality; use of materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovations in upgrades, operations and maintenance. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Building Rating System is a voluntary national standard for high-performance sustainable buildings.

“Our new Materials and Thermal Sciences Center is not just a home for innovation, it’s a shining example of the benefits of sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices,” said Marshall Case, vice president of Infrastructure Services at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “By replacing two other buildings that are each 50 years old with this new facility, we’ll save $1 million in annual maintenance costs, cut energy costs by more than 60 percent, and reduce our carbon footprint. This new facility is better for the environment, more affordable for our business and more versatile for our technologists.”

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 115,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.

For more information, visit: www.lockheedmartin.com

Published in Lockheed Martin

GE Aviation, a global leader in jet engines and aircraft systems, announced that it will break ground this year on a new $100 million jet engine assembly facility in neighboring Lafayette, Indiana.

It becomes the seventh new GE Aviation facility in the U.S. in the past seven years – joining sites in Batesville, MS; Auburn, AL; Greenville, SC; Dayton, Ohio; Ellisville, MS; and Asheville, NC. These facilities support more than 2,500 new U.S. jobs and investment in more than 1 million square feet of new facilities. Between 2013 and 2017, GE Aviation expects to invest more than $3.5 billion in plant and equipment at its sites worldwide, with most of the investment in the U.S.

The new 225,000-square-foot facility in Lafayette will assemble the new LEAP engine of CFM International, a 50/50 joint company of GE and Snecma (Safran) of France. CFM has logged total orders and commitments with airlines for more than 6,000 LEAP jet engines – and it does not enter service until 2016. It will power new Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 MAX, and COMAC (China) C919 aircraft for airlines worldwide.

Launched in 2008, the LEAP is now undergoing development testing. As the engine transitions to the production phase, GE could begin hiring at the new Lafayette facility as early as 2015. Within five years, the plant's workforce is expected to exceed 200 people with the capacity to do final assembly for the engine as well as the engine's hot section (compressor, combustor, high-pressure turbine).

"We are thrilled by the airline industry's enthusiasm for the new LEAP engine and its groundbreaking technologies," said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. "Beginning in 2015, the LEAP engine will experience a dramatic production ramp-up for the remainder of the decade. We are grateful to the entire Indiana team for ensuring that our Lafayette assembly plant will be soon up and running."

"With a nod to our past and an eye on our future, Indiana is a manufacturing state, with decades of experience in building the items that power our world. But we are also a state of innovation, developing the technologies of tomorrow." said Indiana Governor Mike Pence. "GE Aviation's plans in Indiana fuse the two. By selecting Indiana for its new jet engine facility, the company gains a workforce skilled at both developing the big ideas and bringing them to life."

Strong State of Indiana and Purdue University collaboration

Final assembly of the LEAP engine at the Lafayette facility will involve using components and sub-assemblies from GE and Snecma operations and from their suppliers around the world. The LEAP engine will also be assembled at GE's existing engine assembly plant in Durham, North Carolina.

The Lafayette facility will operate a highly advanced assembly line incorporating several new technologies, including automated vision inspection systems and radio frequency parts management to easily spot parts on the shop floor. GE worked closely with the state of Indiana to secure the Lafayette location. The state of Indiana, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), the city of Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County have provided technical support and incentives to ensure a smooth and successful start-up. To prepare for the new factory, GE will work with Ivy Tech at Lafayette for skills and training support.

The plant will be minutes from Purdue University in West Lafayette, which has a long history of collaboration with GE Aviation and its parent, General Electric Co. GE employs more than 1,200 Purdue University alumni, including more than 400 at GE Aviation. Over the past five years, GE has financed more than $2.5 million in research and development projects at Purdue.

GE Aviation leadership has met with Purdue officials to explore opportunities that will closely align the university to the new Lafayette facility. Purdue University is widely recognized as a leader in manufacturing technology, and GE intends to use the new facility as a catalyst for identifying talent and research capability.

"Purdue and GE are continuing to build a broad and strong collaboration in both research and talent recruitment," said Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University. "In today's world, a strong research university is the best economic magnet a state can have, and today's announcement is a perfect example of that principle in action."

GE Aviation's Long-term Growth Outlook

The Lafayette facility reflects the growth at GE Aviation. Jet engine deliveries for GE Aviation and its partner companies (including CFM International) are slated to grow from 2,442 jet engines in 2013 to about 2,850 in 2016.

GE Aviation and its partner companies have the largest and fastest-growing installed base of jet engines in commercial aviation and a global services network to support them. GE and its partner companies have about 34,000 commercial jet engines in service, and that will grow to 41,000 engines by 2020. GE Aviation employs approximately 44,000 people and operates more than 80 facilities worldwide.

By the end of 2013, GE Aviation's multi-year backlog for equipment and services reached $125 billion, more than a 20 percent growth in one year. In addition to its seven new facilities over the past seven years, GE Aviation is making significant investments in its existing operations across the U.S., including investments of more than $350 million since 2012 in its southern Ohio operations in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Peebles.

Technologies in the CFM International LEAP engine

The CFM LEAP engine to be assembled in Lafayette will be among the world's most advanced jet engines, with carbon fiber composite fan blades and fan case (from Snecma), the latest thermodynamic design, higher bypass and compression ratios, advanced 3-D aerodynamic design and greater use of advanced materials. The engine is targeted for a 15 percent improvement in fuel efficiency compared to its predecessor, double-digit improvement in noise and emissions, and the lowest overall cost of ownership in the industry. Other technology features of the LEAP engine:

Additive manufacturing

At its Cincinnati operation, GE Aviation is using a technology called direct metal laser melting (DMLM) to manufacture LEAP fuel nozzles directly from computer-aided design (CAD) files. The process actually "grows" parts, layer by layer, using metal powder and a high-powered fiber laser. The part maintains the same material properties and density as a traditionally manufactured piece, but the process allows for much more complex geometries than were possible in the past. The resulting part is 25 percent lighter than previous nozzles and five times stronger.

Advanced materials

The LEAP will be the first commercial jet engine with ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components in the hot section, representing a significant technology breakthrough for GE and the jet propulsion industry. CMCs are made of silicon carbide ceramic fibers and ceramic resin, manufactured through a highly sophisticated process and further enhanced with proprietary coatings. GE views CMCs as a differentiator for its next-generation aircraft engines. The ultra-lightweight CMC material supports extremely high temperatures in the high-pressure turbine. CMC benefits include: reduced weight, enhanced performance and improved durability that provides longer time on wing, translating into lower fuel and maintenance costs for customers.

GE Aviation invests $1 billion annually in jet propulsion research and development programs. This long tradition of commitment to new technology has helped GE maintains its leadership position within the industry with a proud list of "firsts" in both military and commercial jet propulsion, tracing back to 1942 with America's first jet engine. GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE, is a world-leading provider of jet engines, components and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.

For more information, visit: www.geaviation.com

Published in GE

An astronaut holding the world’s record for the most spacewalks during a single mission, a private company planning to reach mars, aerospace industry titans alongside startup ventures, key military and NASA space officials, and thousands of engineers and executives are all planning to visit the Long Beach Convention Center April 1-3, 2014 for what is shaping up to be the biggest commercial space confab ever to hit the Los Angeles region, Space Tech Expo 2014.

“The Space business is making headlines; from Supermodel Kate Upton’s recent zero gravity shoot, to the Red Bull Stratos record jump to earth, to Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture offering wealthy thrill-seekers like Brad Pitt a ticket to ride in space, commercial interest in Space is at an all time high” says Gordy McHattie, Event Director for Space Tech Expo, the B2B trade show.  “Private and public space ventures and the industry are abuzz with new energy, and even consumer brands are getting in the game.”

Many of the players behind these ventures, and the technologies making them possible will be at Space Tech Expo, one of the largest events of its kind in the world, and the main business tradeshow and conference for the space industry held in the West Coast.

Expo attendees will see the latest space suits, rocket materials, space vehicle systems, and many other types of space-related technologies and products, with the chance to meet and interact with colleagues, suppliers, and partners during the unique free-to-attend three-day event.

Space Tech Expo 2014, the West Coast’s premiere B2B event for spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle and space-related technologies, brings together global decision-makers involved in the design, build and testing of spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle and space-related technologies.  In its third year, Space Tech Expo will take place April 1-3 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Also free to attend, Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo debuts this year alongside Space Tech Expo, and is the only tradeshow and summit dedicated to on-board electrical power for aviation and spacecraft.

In addition to the free expos, Space Tech Conference, a concurrent three-day C-level paid registration conference, will bring together key military personnel, government officials and private sector executives to discuss pressing commercial, military and technology issues facing the space industry.

Space Tech Expo, Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo and Space Tech Conference are expected to feature over 150 organizations, and 2,000-plus attendees.

For more information or to register, visit: www.spacetechexpo.com

Published in Smarter Shows

Please join us for the combined International High Power Laser Ablation (HPLA) and the International Beamed Energy Propulsion (BEP) Symposium. These two events have been combined to provide an even greater opportunity for exchange of ideas, collaboration, and networking. The HPLA side of the meeting focuses on the physics and application of high power laser-materials interaction, including advances in relevant high power laser sources and problems of beam propagation and detection, while the BEP portion of the meeting focuses on the development of beamed-energy propulsion vehicles, engines, schemes and concepts into space transportation systems of the future, as well as microwave sources and lasers as drivers. These meetings offer an exceptional opportunity for researchers in the HPLA & BEP fields to network and present the current results of their studies.

What is high power laser ablation? The light from high-power pulsed lasers can be so intense that it makes a “jet” of material come from solid stuff – space junk, for example. Multiple pulses make multiple jets and can propel the object in a controlled way. You can lower or raise the space junk orbit that way or, if it’s small, make it burn up in the atmosphere. Every time someone launches a satellite, they also make space junk – second stages, explosive bolts and the like. We now have 300,000 pieces of it larger than 1cm (about 0.4 inches) circling the Earth, ready to puncture a live rocket or satellite and make even more space junk, and so on. That is the all-too-real instability featured in the movie “Gravity.” Hundreds of dead, uncontrollable satellites weighing tons are up there, and will circle the Earth until they re-enter and crash on Earth. We can use lasers to control, or at least lower or raise an object so it’s harmless, and clear out the little pieces. Space junk control is the most dramatic of a range of applications that include nanoengineering, laser lightcraft for space travel, transdermal drug injections, laser “direct writing,” and making strange events called phase explosions with pulses a millionth of a billionth of a second long. Beamed energy propulsion is a broader field that uses microwaves for the energy source, not just laser beams.

A majority of our speakers come to Santa Fe from outside the U.S., including Russia, France, the U.K., Germany, Ukraine, Japan, Australia and China. Dr. Claude Phipps first organized HPLA at the Santa Fe Hilton in 1998, and is the Chair of the 2014 HPLA/BEP Symposium. In conjunction with Dr. Phipps, the events are organized by Blue52 Productions, LLC, a technical event production company based out of Dayton, OH. The intention was to create a new kind of physics symposium that would emphasize the broad relationships in laser ablation research and its applications rather than focusing on a single narrow technology. This year, for the first time, we are also joined by Beamed Energy Propulsion, a symposium Dr. Phipps also chaired in 2009.

This year the Symposium has a very diverse and hard hitting line up of speakers. Our distinguished keynote speakers include Prof. Eric Mazur from the Harvard Physics Department, Dr. Johannes Pedarnig of the Johannes Kepler University in Austria, Dr. Bruno Esmiller of Astrium Space Transportation in France, and Prof. David Neely from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the U.K. There are 21 sessions all told in two parallel tracks, in which 94 oral papers will be given plus a poster session featuring 60 more presentations. We expect 200 attendees.

For more information or to register, visit: www.usasymposium.com/hplabep

Published in Blue 52 Productions

With space budgets tighter than ever, Space Tech Conference 2014 will bring together key military personnel, government officials and private industry executives to discuss the pressing issues facing the space industry during April 1-3, 2014 in Long Beach, California.

Space Tech Conference tackles business and strategic issues impacting commercial, military/DoD and civil government space sectors, and will offer attendees vital insights into purchasing priorities, acquisition requirements and business opportunities.

The unique conference format is designed to help busy space professionals maximize their time, by offering separate day one-day tracks that focus on commercial, military, and technology topics.

Event Overview:

  • Day 1, Tuesday, April 1, focuses on commercial space, including launch services, commercial crew and cargo and human spaceflight opportunities, as well as new ITAR / regulatory issues affecting players. Key representatives from NASA, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Federal Aviation Administration, will join panels with senior industry executives from Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Orbital Sciences, SpaceX, Ball Aerospace, XCOR Aerospace, and entrepreneurs developing new space-based enterprises.

  • Day 2, Wednesday, April 2, panelists address key military space issues, from resiliency and affordability, to hosted payloads, to smallsats and evolving military space architectures.   Speakers include DoD and government agency representatives from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, U.S. Air Force, GPS Directorate, DARPA, Navy SPAWAR Systems, and industry speakers from SES, Intelsat, NewSat, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and ATK Aerospace Group.

  • Day 3, Thursday, April 3rd focuses on potentially game-changing technologies, from electric propulsion and mission enabling, to 3D printing in space, with speakers ranging from key government agencies such as NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to global space tech players including as Thales Alenia Space, Space Systems/Loral, Boeing.

Within easy driving distance from much of California’s space industry, key manufacturing facilities, NASA’s JPL, as well as DoD facilities involved in space, Space Tech Conference 2014 is also an exceptionally travel-budget-friendly option for conference attendees from the West Coast.

Space Tech Conference 2014 takes place as part of Space Tech Expo 2014, the West Coast’s premier B2B event for spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle and space-related technologies during April 1-3, at the Long Beach Convention Center.    The free-to-attend Space Tech Expo exhibition and conference brings together global decision-makers involved in the design, build and testing of spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle and space-related technologies. In its third year, the conference and exhibit hall is expected to feature over 150 companies and organizations showcasing their latest products, technologies and innovations, and 2,000-plus attendees.

Aerospace Electrical Systems Expo, the only tradeshow and summit dedicated to on-board electrical power for aviation and spacecraft will be co-located with Space Tech Expo for the first time in 2014.

For more information, visit: www.spacetechexpo.com

Published in Smarter Shows

EADS Innovation Works (IW), the aerospace and defense group's research and technology organisation, is always on the look-out for new manufacturing methods. A recent target for evaluation was an additive manufacturing process called Direct Metal Laser-Sintering (DMLS).

Developed by EOS, it is being used by EADS IW to manufacture demonstration parts to explore the benefits of optimised design and production sustainability. Protection of the environment is a key driver, while a reduction in the costs of manufacturing and operating its aerospace products also underlies the group’s research.

As quality, costs and environmental effects play a major role in the decision-making process for design and manufacturing solutions, EADS IW has defined new Technology Readiness Level (TRL) criteria focusing on sustainability. Nine TRL processes must be passed at EADS before a technology can be qualified for use in production. For each TRL review, a technology's level of maturity is evaluated in terms of performance, engineering, manufacturing, operational readiness, value and risk. For each of these criteria, new components must out-perform existing ones.

The results from the initial joint study of AM were evaluated in terms of CO2 emissions, energy and raw material efficiency and recycling. When analysing energy consumption, the company's investigation included not only the production phase, but also the sourcing and transportation of raw materials, argon consumption for the atomisation of the DMLS metal powder, and overall waste from atomisation.

An assessment by EADS IW highlighted, amongst other things, the potential cost and sustainability benefits of DMLS during the operational phase in the redesign of Airbus A320 nacelle hinge brackets. The data was backed up by test results from EOS and, in an additional step, by test results from a raw material (powder) supplier.

In the first instance, cast steel nacelle hinge brackets were compared to an additively manufactured (AM) bracket of optimised titanium design by measuring the energy consumption over the whole life cycle. The technology turned out to be a good fit for the design optimisation, as for this application the operational phase is typically 100 times more important than the static phases (e.g. manufacturing the part).

A comparison was made between manufacturing the optimised titanium component by rapid investment casting and on an EOS platform. Energy consumption for the life cycle of the bracket, including raw material manufacture, the production process and the end-of-life phase, is slightly smaller on the EOS platform compared with rapid investment casting. The main advantage of the EOS technology, however, is that the additive process uses only the amount of material for manufacture that is in the product itself. Thus consumption of raw material can be reduced by up to 75 per cent.

The study focused on the comparison between DMLS and rapid investment casting of a single part and did not take into account the question of scalability, which has yet to be addressed. However, some impressive results were documented.

The optimised design of the nacelle hinge bracket allowed EADS and EOS to demonstrate the potential to reduce the weight per aircraft by approximately 10 kg – a significant amount in aviation. CO2 emissions as a result of the brackets were reduced by almost 40 per cent over their life cycle by optimising the design, despite the fact that the EOS technology uses significantly more energy during manufacture.

Jon Meyer at EADS IW said, “DMLS has demonstrated a number of benefits, as it can support design optimisation and enable subsequent manufacture in low volume production.

"In general, the joint study revealed that DMLS has the potential to build light, sustainable parts with due regard to our company’s CO2 footprint.

"A key driver of the study was the integrated and transparent cooperation between customer and supplier, with an open approach that saw an unprecedented level of information sharing.

"The collaboration has set the standard for future studies involving the introduction and adoption of new technologies and processes.

"Even after the first positive results were evident, neither of the parties settled for the outcome, but continued to investigate options for further improvement.”

Part of the project's success was due to continued efforts towards further enhancements, evidenced by the swapping of the EOSINT M 270 DMLS machine for an EOSINT M 280 using titanium instead of steel, which led to additional CO2 savings. The technology has the potential to make future aircraft lighter, leading to savings in resources which help to meet sustainability goals, without compromising on safety.

Jon Meyer, ALM Research Team Leader at EADS IW, added, “We see several advantages in the use of DMLS, mainly concerning freedom of design and ecological aspects.

"We can optimise structures and integrate dedicated functionality, in addition to which DMLS can significantly reduce sites’ CO2 footprints, as our study with EOS demonstrated.

“Furthermore, considering ecology and design together, optimised structures can result in reduced CO2 emissions due to weight reduction. I see tremendous potential in DMLS technology for future aircraft generations, when it comes to both development and manufacturing.”

For more information, visit: www.eos.info or www.eads.com

Published in EOS

PTC (Nasdaq: PMTC) recently joined more than 45 partners to kick-off the 2013-2014 Real World Design Challenge. The theme of this year’s challenge, “Unmanned Aircraft System Challenge: Precision Agriculture,” was announced in Washington, DC.   A $50,000 scholarship from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will be provided to each student on the national winning team.

Shared Value is a corporate social responsibility initiative at PTC where the company gets involved with programs like the Real World Design Challenge in order to build stronger communities which can result in a better workforce for other companies that require engineers.  These programs make science and technology exciting for participants, encourages interest in these fields, and helps build excitement for the engineers of the future.

The Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) is an annual competition that provides more than 5,000 high school students, grades 9-12, the opportunity to work on real world engineering challenges in a team environment. PTC and its partners, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the Aerospace States Association, are focused on transforming and enhancing STEM education in the American educational system by providing science, engineering and learning resources that allow students and teachers to address an actual challenge confronting one of the nation's most important industries.

Students that participate in the 2013-2014 Real World Design Challenge will focus on the design and implementation of an Unmanned Aircraft System to support precision agriculture, specifically to monitor and assess crop conditions to achieve increased yield.  Teams will employ a systems engineering design and integration approach to identify, compare, analyze, demonstrate and defend the most appropriate component combinations, subsystem designs, operational methods and business case to support the challenge scenario.

“This competition offers a broad base of resources and expertise from business, government and academia to help students apply the lessons of the classroom to the technical problems being faced in the workplace,” said John Stuart, senior vice president, global academic program, PTC.  “Teams are encouraged to think like engineers and scientists while also developing the problem solving skills they will use in their careers.  PTC is proud to be part of the Real World Design Challenge.”

The winning teams from the participating states will be notified in April and will receive an all- expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete at the National Challenge Event in November 2014.

PTC provides commercial-grade product development software, including PTC Creo® 3D product design software, PTC Windchill® product lifecycle management software and PTC Mathcad® engineering calculation software, to teams participating in the Real World Design Challenge. PTC also provides connections and access to mentors from its partner organizations across America who are participants in the competition or program management for the competition.

The deadline for teams to register for the Real World Design Challenge is December 20, 2013.  The solution submissions are due March 31, 2014.

For more information or to register a team, visit: www.realworlddesignchallenge.org

Published in PTC

A group of engineering students at the University of California, San Diego tested a 3D-printed rocket engine made out of laser sintered metal at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry testing site in the Mojave Desert.

To build the engine, students used a proprietary design that they developed. The engine was primarily financed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and was printed by Illinois-based GPI Prototype and Manufacturing Services using direct metal laser sintering. This is the first time a university has produced a 3D printed liquid fueled metal rocket engine, according to the students, who are members of the UC San Diego chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

“We’ve all been working so hard, putting countless hours to ensure that it all works,” said Deepak Atyam, the organization’s president. “If all goes well, we would be the first entity outside of NASA to have tested a liquid fueled rocket motor in its entirety. We hope to see all of our hard work come to fruition.”

The engine was designed to power the third stage of a rocket carrying several NanoSat-style satellites with a mass of less than a few pounds each. The engine is about 6 to 7 inches long and weighs about 10 lbs. It is designed to generate 200 lbs of thrust and is made of cobalt and chromium, a high-grade alloy. It runs on kerosene and liquid oxygen and cost $6,800 to manufacture, including $5,000 from NASA. The rest was raised by students through barbeque sales and other student-run fundraisers.

A 3D printed metal rocket engine would dramatically cut costs for launches, said Forman Williams, a professor of aerospace engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, who is the students’ advisor. Williams admits that he was skeptical at first as the design of liquid-propellant rockets is very complex and detailed, but the students surprised him.

For more information, visit: seds.ucsd.edu



NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne of West Palm Beach, Florida, recently finished testing a rocket engine injector made through additive manufacturing or 3d printing.

This space technology demonstration may lead to more efficient manufacturing of rocket engines, saving American companies time and money.

NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland conducted the successful tests for Aerojet Rocketdyne through a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement.

A series of firings of a liquid oxygen and gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly demonstrated the ability to design, manufacture and test a highly critical rocket engine component using selective laser melting manufacturing technology. Aerojet Rocketdyne designed and fabricated the injector by a method that employs high-powered laser beams to melt and fuse fine metallic powders into three dimensional structures.

"NASA recognizes that on Earth and potentially in space, additive manufacturing can be game-changing for new mission opportunities, significantly reducing production time and cost by 'printing' tools, engine parts or even entire spacecraft," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington. "3-D manufacturing offers opportunities to optimize the fit, form and delivery systems of materials that will enable our space missions while directly benefiting American businesses here on Earth."

This type of injector manufactured with traditional processes would take more than a year to make but with these new processes it can be produced in less than four months, with a 70 percent reduction in cost.

"Rocket engine components are complex machined pieces that require significant labor and time to produce. The injector is one of the most expensive components of an engine," said Tyler Hickman, who led the testing at Glenn.

Aerojet Rocketdyne's additive manufacturing program manager, Jeff Haynes, said the injector represents a significant advancement in application of additive manufacturing, most often used to make simple brackets and other less critical hardware. "The injector is the heart of a rocket engine and represents a large portion of the resulting cost of these systems. Today, we have the results of a fully additive manufactured rocket injector with a demonstration in a relevant environment." he said.

Glenn and Aerojet Rocketdyne partnered on the project with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, California. At the Air Force lab, a unique high-pressure facility provided pre-test data early in the program to give insight into the spray patterns of additively manufactured injector elements.

"Hot fire testing the injector as part of a rocket engine is a significant accomplishment in maturing additive manufacturing for use in rocket engines," said Carol Tolbert, manager of the Manufacturing Innovation Project at Glenn. "These successful tests let us know that we are ready to move on to demonstrate the feasibility of developing full-size, additively manufactured parts."

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/glenn

Published in NASA

SME is seeking manufacturing professionals with subject-area expertise to speak at AeroDef Manufacturing 2014, the ground-breaking exposition and technical conference solely devoted to aerospace and defense manufacturing. It will be held February 25 – 27 at the Long Beach California Convention Center.

“This is an important industry event that gives you an opportunity to share your knowledge with aerospace and defense manufacturing engineers who are looking for ways to increase manufacturability and productivity,” said Dave Morton, senior show manager for SME.

AeroDef Manufacturing is produced in partnership with leading OEMs to bring together the extended manufacturing enterprise to find integrated solutions that are critical to maintaining the industry’s long-term competitiveness. SME is looking for experts who can provide information that can shorten manufacturing production and delivery cycles for aerospace and defense customers. Topic areas include:

  • Composites, Metals & Advanced Materials
  • Digital & Additive Manufacturing
  • Finishing & Coatings: Extreme Environments & Survivability
  • Integrated Assembly & Robotics
  • Precision Machining & Tooling

The deadline for presentation abstracts is August 21, 2013. Speaking submissions will be reviewed by members of the AeroDef Conference Committee, which includes:

  • George N. Bullen, CPIM, president, CEO,Smart Blades, Inc.
  • Jim Fisher, director of operations, National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining
  • Youping Gao, PhD, associate fellow discipline lead, Manufacturing Engineering, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne
  • Dr. Don A. Kinard, PhD, senior technical fellow, deputy, F-35 Fighter Production System, Lockheed Martin
  • James L. McHale, senior manager, Manufacturing Technology, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
  • Mer Parhizkary, senior partner and technical fellow, ARG Consulting Group
  • Dan Sanders, senior technical fellow, Boeing Research & Technology
  • David Siedal, technical fellow, Lockheed Martin
  • Todd Szallay, manager, Manufacturing Technology Development, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
  • John Wang, senior manager, Systems Integration & Test, Satellite Development Center, The Boeing Company

Visit the AeroDef Manufacturing website to complete the Call for Speakers Form, including a 100-200 word description of your presentation. For more information about attending, exhibiting, or presenting, visit the website or call 800-733-3976.

For more information, visit: www.aerodefevent.com/call-for-speakers



Published in SME

Energy conversion technology, advanced energy systems, and the future of aerospace propulsion will be among the topics discussed at the San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, California, July 15–17 at the 49th Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhbit (JPC) and the 11th International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference, hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Through keynote addresses, panel discussions, and technical sessions, the co-located conferences will explore the future of aerospace propulsion and energy systems. Topics of discussion include the evolution of commercial space, international propulsion collaboration, recent developments with NASA’s Space Launch System, mission requirements and technologies for space transportation, legacy reusable launch systems, next-generation aircraft systems, energy conversion technology, advanced energy and power systems, devices for terrestrial energy systems, aerospace technology’s role in advanced power systems, and the future of the “Smart Grid” in the United States and abroad.

Keynote speakers include: John Olson, assistant director, space and aeronautics, White House Office on Science and Technology Policy; Ric Parker, director, Research & Technology, Rolls–Royce, PLC; and Al Shafer, principal deputy, assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering. Panelists include: Simon “Pete” Worden, director, NASA Ames Research Center; Alton Romig, vice president and general manager, Skunk Works, Lockheed Martin Corp.; Daniel Dumbacher, deputy administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters; William Gaubatz, former program manager, DC-X program, McDonnell Douglas; and Ed Lu, chairman and CEO, B612 Foundation.

This year’s conferences will also feature various technical sessions addressing topics that are subject to the requirements of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Attendance at these U.S. only sessions will require proof of U.S. citizenship for entry.

For more information or to register, visit: www.aiaa.org/EventsLanding.aspx?id=79

Published in AIAA

In preparation for a future where parts and tools can be printed on demand in space, NASA and Made in Space Inc. of Mountain View, California, have joined to launch equipment for the first 3-D microgravity printing experiment to the International Space Station.

If successful, the 3-D Printing in Zero G Experiment (3-D Print) will be the first device to manufacture parts in space. 3-D Print will use extrusion additive manufacturing, which builds objects, layer by layer, out of polymers and other materials. The 3-D Print hardware is scheduled to be certified and ready for launch to the space station next year.

"As NASA ventures further into space, whether redirecting an asteroid or sending humans to Mars, we'll need transformative technology to reduce cargo weight and volume," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said during a recent tour of the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "In the future, perhaps astronauts will be able to print the tools or components they need while in space."

NASA is a government leader in 3-D printing for engineering applications. The technology holds tremendous potential for future space exploration. One day, 3-D printing may allow an entire spacecraft to be manufactured in space, eliminating design constraints caused by the challenges and mass constraints of launching from Earth. This same technology may help revolutionize American manufacturing and benefit U.S. industries.

"The president's Advanced Manufacturing Initiative cites additive manufacturing, or '3-D printing,' as one of the key technologies that will keep U.S. companies competitive and maintain world leadership in our new global technology economy," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington. "We're taking that technology to new heights, by working with Made in Space to test 3-D printing aboard the space station. Taking advantage of our orbiting national laboratory, we'll be able to test new manufacturing techniques that benefit our astronauts and America's technology development pipeline."

In addition to manufacturing spacecraft designs in orbit, 3-D printers also could work with robotic systems to create tools and habitats needed for human missions to Mars and other planetary destinations. Housing and laboratories could be fabricated by robots using printed building blocks that take advantage of in-situ resources, such as soil or minerals. Astronauts on long-duration space missions also could print and recycle tools as they are needed, saving mass, volume and resources.

"The 3-D Print experiment with NASA is a step towards the future," said Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made in Space. "The ability to 3-D print parts and tools on demand greatly increases the reliability and safety of space missions while also dropping the cost by orders of magnitude. The first printers will start by building test items, such as computer component boards, and will then build a broad range of parts, such as tools and science equipment."

Made in Space previously partnered with NASA through the agency's Flight Opportunities Program to test its prototype 3-D Print additive manufacturing equipment on suborbital simulated microgravity flights. NASA's Flight Opportunities Program offers businesses and researchers the ability to fly new technologies to the edge of space and back for testing before launching them into the harsh space environment.

For this mission, Made in Space was awarded a Phase III small business innovation and research contract from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. After flight certification, NASA plans to ship 3-D Print to the space station aboard an American commercial resupply mission. NASA is working with American industry to develop commercially-provided U.S. spacecraft and launch vehicles for delivery of cargo -- and eventually crew -- to the International Space Station.

For more information about Made in Space, visit: www.madeinspace.us

Published in NASA

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company, partnered with the University of Connecticut to establish one of the nation's most advanced additive manufacturing laboratories, the Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center.

"We are excited to further strengthen our partnership with Pratt & Whitney, an industry leader in using additive manufacturing technology," said Susan Herbst, president, University of Connecticut. "Our partnership with Pratt & Whitney is a great example of how industry and universities can work together to enhance research capabilities."

This state-of-the-art facility will be used to further additive manufacturing research and development, and is the first in the Northeast to work with metals rather than plastics. Additive manufacturing is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. Materials are added, versus the traditional subtractive methods such as stamping, forging, computer numerical controlled machining, to precise geometries determined by CAD drawings.

"The University of Connecticut's outstanding technical capacity complements our fundamental research needs and will help us continue to grow our additive manufacturing capabilities," said Paul Adams, Pratt & Whitney's chief operating officer. "Additive manufacturing is complimentary to traditional methods by enabling new innovation in design, speed and affordability. It is necessary to build the next generation of jet engines. We are currently using additive manufacturing to build complex components with extreme precision for the flight-proven PurePower® commercial jet engine."

Pratt & Whitney invested more than $4.5 million in the Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Center and over the next five years will invest more than $3.5 million in the facility. In 2010, Pratt & Whitney established a research Center of Excellence at the University of Connecticut. The Pratt & Whitney Center of Excellence at UConn focuses on fundamental and applied research initiatives that support the design and development of more efficient gas turbine engines. UConn's primary research is in the field of advanced sensors, diagnostics and controls.

The University of Connecticut is one of the nation's leading public research universities. UConn's main campus in Storrs, CT is admitting the highest-achieving freshmen in University history. As a Carnegie Foundation Research University, the University of Connecticut has more than 100 research centers and institutes supporting its teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, auxiliary and ground power units, small turbojet propulsion products and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies Corporation, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building industries.

For more information, visit: www.engr.uconn.edu

Published in Pratt & Whitney

Registration is open for teams seeking to compete in the $1.5 million energy storage competition known as the Night Rover Challenge, sponsored by NASA and the Cleantech Open of Palo Alto, California.

To win, a team must demonstrate a stored energy system that can power a simulated solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate through multiple cycles of daylight and extended periods of darkness.

"The goal of the Night Rover Challenge is to stimulate innovations in energy storage technologies of value in extreme space environments, such as the surface of the moon, or for electric vehicles and renewable energy systems here on Earth," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for Space Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "NASA wants this challenge to generate new ideas that will allow planetary rovers the ability to take on a night shift, and possibly create new energy storage technologies for applications of benefit here on our home planet."

This is a Centennial Challenge in which NASA provides the prize purse for technological achievements by independent teams while the Cleantech Open manages the competition as NASA's allied organization. The challenge is extended to individuals, groups and companies working outside the traditional aerospace industry. Unlike most contracts or grants, awards will be made only after solutions are demonstrated successfully.

During the Night Rover Challenge energy storage systems will receive electrical energy from a simulated solar collector during daylight hours. During darkness, the stored energy will be used for simulated thermal management, scientific experimentation, communications and rover movement. A winning system must exceed the performance of an existing state-of-the-art system by a pre-determined margin. The winning system will be the one that has the highest energy storage density.

"The partnership NASA has with the Cleantech Open allows us to leverage taxpayer dollars in advancing technology development in this critical area," said Larry Cooper, Centennial Challenges program executive at NASA Headquarters. "Technology development is a priority for NASA; we push technology development effectively by partnering with industry and academia to advance our nation's space exploration and science goals while maintaining America's technology edge."

Since the program's inception in 2005, NASA's Centennial Challenges has awarded more than $6 million to 15 different competition-winning teams through 23 events. Competitors have included private companies, citizen inventors and academia working outside the traditional aerospace industry. The competitions are managed by nonprofit organizations that cover the cost of operations through commercial or private sponsorships.

The Cleantech Open bills itself as the world's largest accelerator for renewable, or clean, energy technology development. Its mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today's most urgent energy, environmental, and economic challenges. A not-for-profit organization, the Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships that turn clever ideas into successful global clean-technology companies.

For information, visit: www.nightrover.org

Published in NASA

Space Tech Conference, the West Coast’s premier space event will be held on May 21-23, 2013 in Long Beach, California. The event will bring together high-profile market players and industry specialists to discuss pressing business issues facing the space industry.  Under “The Business Case for Space” theme, the 2013 conference will address core challenges and opportunities in space commercialization, commercial crew and cargo, space tourism, space launch systems, space funding, technology transfer, International Space Station utilization, military requirements, and supply chain and acquisition considerations.

With budgets tight and spending under close scrutiny, the Space Tech Conference 2013 offers vital insights into purchasing priorities, acquisition requirements and supply chain opportunities. Prime contractors including ATK, SpaceX, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, Rocketdyne and Raytheon will join representatives from NASA, the military, and The Aerospace Corporation to discuss strategies that continue to deliver excellence and innovation, while also driving down cost.

The Space Tech Conference will take place as part of Space Tech Expo, a B2B exhibition for the design, test and build of satellite, spacecraft, launch vehicle and space-related technologies. The exhibit hall will feature over 150 companies and organizations displaying their latest products, technologies and innovations including NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office, ATK, Raytheon, L-3 ETI, Space Systems/Loral, XCOR Aerospace – and many more.

Space Tech Expo and Space Tech Conference 2013 will take place May 21, 22, and 23 in Hall A at the Long Beach Convention Center.

For more information, visit: www.spacetechexpo.com

Published in Space Tech Conference

NASA unveiled an Exploration Design Challenge to give students from kindergarten through 12th grade the opportunity to play a unique role in the future of human spaceflight. The innovative educational opportunity was announced in a special event at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The challenge asks students in the U.S. and abroad to think and act like scientists to overcome one of the major hurdles for deep space long-duration exploration -- protecting astronauts and hardware from the dangers of space radiation.

This education-focused effort was developed through a Space Act Agreement between NASA and Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., in collaboration with the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Va. The goal is to help students see their role in America's future exploration endeavors.

"America's next step in human space exploration is an ambitious one and will require new technologies, including ways to keep our astronauts safe from the effects of deep-space radiation," Bolden said. "That is the focus of this challenge, and we are excited students will be helping us solve that problem."

The announcement took place in front of a full-size Orion replica at Johnson's Space Vehicle Mockup Facility. Orion is the spacecraft that will take astronauts to deep space destinations in the future. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer, Lockheed Martin CEO and President Marillyn Hewson, and NASA Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin were at the event. They were joined by local teacher Amber Pinchback, who offered an educator's perspective on the value of NASA missions and programs and how they benefit science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in the classroom.

"Space exploration has inspired and fascinated young people for generations, and the Exploration Design Challenge is a unique way to capture and engage the imaginations of tomorrow's engineers and scientists," Hewson said.

The first Orion test mission in space is called Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1). The mission is set to lift off in 2014 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Melvin, a two-time shuttle astronaut, explained the details of the challenge and shared why hands-on experience and involvement is an effective catalyst for engaging young minds in the future of America's human spaceflight program.

"Exploration Flight Test-1 is set to launch next year, so participating in this challenge will give the students a real sense of being part of the NASA team," Melvin said. "They will be able to chart Orion's progress as it moves closer to the test launch. That's important because these students represent our future scientists, engineers and explorers."

NASA is planning for longer human space exploration missions outside the protective blanket of Earth's atmosphere and magnetosphere. NASA, Lockheed Martin and other partners are developing the Orion spacecraft to carry astronauts farther into space than humans ever have gone before. To do this, materials must be engineered for the spacecraft that will better protect future space explorers from the dangers of space radiation. In 2017, NASA's Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, currently in development, will send Orion on a flight test mission around the moon.

NASA's Exploration Design Challenge brings cutting-edge learning to educators and students using standards-based activities, as well as print and video resources developed by leading education experts. Students taking part in the challenge will discover how to plan and design improved radiation shielding aboard the new spacecraft.

Younger students, in grades K-4 and 5-8, will analyze different materials that simulate space radiation shielding for Orion and recommend materials that best block harmful radiation and protect astronauts. Students in grades 9-12 will learn about radiation and human space travel in greater detail. Using what they have learned, they will be asked to think and act like engineers by designing shielding that protects a sensor on the Orion capsule from space radiation.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/education/edc

Published in NASA

NASA is inviting potential partners to help the agency achieve its strategic goals for education.

Using its unique missions, discoveries, and assets, NASA supports education inside and outside the formal classroom to inspire and motivate educators and learners of all ages in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The agency is seeking unfunded partnerships with organizations to engage new or broader audiences across a national scale.

NASA recognizes the benefit of leveraging those unique resources and abilities that partners can provide in order to improve efficiency and maximize impact of its STEM efforts. This announcement requests information from organizations interested in working with NASA to improve STEM education in America.

Potential partnership activities are varied, and NASA is receptive to a wide range of possibilities. All categories of domestic groups, including U.S. federal government agencies, are eligible to respond to this announcement. NASA particularly seeks responses from creative organizations with wide-ranging areas of expertise that can affect systemic change for improving STEM education. NASA will accept responses through Dec. 31, 2014. Review of responses will begin April 1.

For more information, visit: go.nasa.gov/VgRZYt

Published in NASA

Manufacturing professionals can choose from dozens of technical sessions on technologies critical to the success of the aerospace and defense industry at AeroDef Manufacturing and Composites Manufacturing. The dual exposition and technical conference will be held March 19–21, 2013, at the Long Beach California Convention Center and is produced by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

The AeroDef conference committee includes professionals from leading aerospace and defense manufacturing companies, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Pratt & Whitney. The conference is designed to answer questions critical to the future of the industry. For example, how can suppliers meet the burgeoning demand for innovation, affordability and producibility?

AeroDef gives participants a comprehensive perspective of the extended aerospace and defense manufacturing enterprise. Keynote speakers will address the industry’s challenges and promising solutions, which attendees can more fully explore through the event’s panel discussions, technical conference tracks and Integrated Solutions Centers.

Aerospace & Defense

  • Titanium Machining Enhancements
  • Digital Direct Manufacturing Overview
  • Quality & Producibility
  • Automated Machining Systems
  • Digital Direct Machining of Metallic Structures
  • Materials Applications for Finishings & Coatings
  • Automated Assembly
  • Contract Manufacturing Services
  • Advances in Inspection
  • Simulation & Analysis Tools for Machining
  • Integrated Assembly

Composites

  • Processes
  • Sporting Goods Applications
  • Wind Energy Applications
  • Tooling
  • Machining
  • Automotive Applications
  • Out of Autoclave
  • Automated Processes
  • Fabrication & Repair
  • Drilling

Attendees who register by Jan. 31, 2013, will receive a $100 discount on their conference fee. Use promo code ATTNPROMOPress when you register. FANUC FA America is the sponsor of the aerospace tracks. Axiom Solutions is the sponsor of the composites tracks.

AeroDef Manufacturing is the leading technical conference and exposition for the aerospace and defense manufacturing industry. Produced by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), in partnership with leading industry OEMs, its mission is to foster innovation across the extended enterprise to reduce costs, expedite production times and maintain U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.

For more information, visit: www.aerodefevent.com/sessionsspeakers

Published in SME

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) announced details of the panel discussions and technical conference for AeroDef Manufacturing 2013 and Composites Manufacturing, which will be held March 19–21 at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. The sessions focus on topics that hold the most potential to transform aerospace and defense manufacturing.

Dozens of technical sessions focused on eight technologies will be offered throughout the three-day event intended to drive innovation across the extended aerospace and defense manufacturing supply chain. The technology zones reflect the composition of the exposition floor and include composites and advanced materials, digital direct manufacturing, electronics, finishing and coating, integrated assembly, precision machining and tooling, quality measurement and inspection, and supplier/contract manufacturing.

Panel discussions are held each day from 1 p.m.–2 p.m. on The Deck, a central area of the exposition floor for learning, networking and collaboration. Panel discussions and keynote addresses are free-of-charge to attendees who register in advance of AeroDef.

  • Inside the AeroDef Boardroom: Executive Perspectives on the Future of the Industry, Tuesday, March 19.
  • The Future Role of Software in Composites Manufacturing, Wednesday, March 20.
  • The Role of Modeling & Simulation in 21st Century Aerospace and Defense System Development, Thursday, March 21.

AeroDef is designed to give participants a comprehensive perspective of the extended aerospace and defense manufacturing enterprise. Keynote speakers will address the industry’s challenges and promising solutions, which attendees can more fully explore through the event’s panel discussions, technical conference tracks and Integrated Solutions Centers.

The AeroDef conference committee comprises professionals from leading aerospace and defense manufacturing companies, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Pratt & Whitney.

For more information, visit: www.aerodefevent.com

Published in SME

GE announced today that it has agreed to purchase the aviation business of Avio S.p.A., an Italy-based manufacturer of aviation propulsion components and systems for civil and military aircraft, for $4.3 billion U.S. (€3.3 billion).

The announcement was made in Milan, Italy, by David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, and Nani Beccalli, president and CEO of GE Europe.

GE plans to acquire Avio’s aviation business from Cinven, a leading European private equity firm that has owned Avio since 2006, and Finmeccanica, the Italian aerospace group. The transaction is subject to regulatory and governmental approvals. GE will not be purchasing Avio’s space unit.

The acquisition of Avio’s aviation business, which provides components for GE Aviation and other engine companies, would further GE’s participation in jet propulsion, one of the most attractive sectors of the aviation industry.

Avio will strengthen GE’s global supply chain capabilities as its engine production rates continue to rise to meet growing customer demand. Avio and its customers will benefit from GE’s planned investment in expanding Avio’s products and services. Additionally, GE sees excellent opportunity in the acquisition of Avio related to margin expansion.

Founded in 1908 and headquartered in Turin, Italy, Avio operates in four continents and employs about 5,300 people, 4,500 of whom are in Italy, including approximately 800 in the space unit. In the jet propulsion industry, Avio is a provider of low-pressure turbine systems, accessory gearboxes, geared systems, combustors and other components. Avio's 2011 revenues in the aviation sector were €1.7 billion ($2.4 billion U.S. dollars) with more than 50 percent of that revenue derived from components for GE and GE joint venture engines.

The purchase price to be paid by GE for Avio’s aviation business represents a multiple of approximately 8.5x based on 2012 estimated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Avio has supplied components to GE Aviation since 1984 and has content on engines ranging from the large GE90 and GEnx turbofan engines for the commercial aircraft sector, to the smaller CT7/T700 turboshaft engine family for civil and military helicopters. These GE engines are among the best-selling in aviation and are expected to provide a profitable, long-term revenue stream for the company.

This acquisition will create additional opportunities to offer Avio’s products and services beyond the aviation industry. GE plans to pursue new opportunities for Avio in power-generation, oil, and marine products. For example, Avio’s capabilities in transmission systems present potential growth opportunities in multiple sectors.

“We look forward to Avio joining the GE family,” said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation. “We have worked closely with Avio for decades, and we anticipate a bright future together. This acquisition is a great strategic fit with our existing portfolio. Avio has technologies, capabilities and outstanding engineers to help grow our business. GE is an excellent corporate citizen in Italy, and we are very excited to grow the relationship.”

“The deal with General Electric is a recognition of Avio’s competencies, technologies and growth record,” said Francesco Caio, CEO of Avio. “It lays the foundations for the next phase of development for our company and will enable our teams and plants to become centers of excellence in transmissions and turbines for one of the leading companies in this field. This will open up many new opportunities for our people, our research centres and manufacturing in Italy. Our space division, which will not see a change of ownership in the short term, enters a new phase. Cinven and Finmeccanica will work together to establish the most appropriate set of industrial alliances to ensure long-term competitiveness and compliance with national and European interests.”

For more information, visit: www.ge.com/aviation or www.aviogroup.com/en

Published in GE

ESI Group announces the signature of a protocol for a multi-year strategic collaboration agreement with Astrium, Europe’s leading space technology company. Officially signed in Paris on November 16, 2012 during the Astrium R&T days, this agreement aims at developing Virtual Prototyping technologies and promoting Virtual Engineering in the space domain, and addresses critical needs in the design and manufacture of next generation launchers.

Astrium and ESI Group have implemented this long-term collaboration agreement with the intent to jointly ”co-create” new and innovative technologies, processes, and development methodologies for the space industry and its next generation launchers. The objective of this collaboration is to enable the space industry to rapidly build robust virtual prototypes of components, subsystems and systems of the new and improved launchers at various and early stages of the design and development cycle.

At the signing ceremony held in Paris on November 16, Hervé Gilibert, CTO and CQO of Astrium Space Transportation, described the collaborative intent of this agreement:

“For Astrium, today’s agreement with ESI Group sets a new standard in how we collaborate with our key industrial partners. Our intent is to align objectives and join forces to drive Astrium and its partners to the leading edge of global innovation, in order to maintain and reinforce the European leadership of Ariane in the global commercial launch services market.

The relationship of Astrium with ESI dates back to the 70’s before the creation of the EADS group, when ESI successfully accompanied the development of numerical simulation in the aerospace and aeronautical industry with the European Space Agency ESA/ESTEC. ESI has continued to pioneer Virtual Prototyping worldwide, primarily in the automotive industry where it has achieved most spectacular results.

Today both parties are convinced that a joint collaborative effort between Astrium and ESI is the best partnership solution to address the new global challenges of the space industry. We’re setting the scene for the next generation of space vehicles and technologies, while promoting Virtual Prototyping and Virtual Engineering.”

Eric Daubourg, COO of ESI France added: “Under this multi-year agreement, ESI is fully committed to supporting Astrium-ST in its quest for new methodologies in Virtual Prototyping that address the specific requirements of advanced space technologies. Our partnership with Astrium and the space community will enhance the national and international recognition of launcher and space technologies developed in Europe.”

Despite being at the forefront of technology, the European space industry must indeed face global challenges that are rising with the arrival of new international players. In this environment, the overall performance of launchers and their modularity and flexibility to accommodate customers’ needs must keep improving while manufacturing and operating costs must be drastically reduced. New designs, new manufacturing processes, and new multi material solutions have to be invented, tested, validated, and certified in record time.

Vincent Chaillou, COO, ESI Group concluded: “Such an evolution cannot be conducted using the traditional approach of trial and error on increasingly expensive ‘real’ physical prototypes. Virtual Prototyping enables the mandatory early evaluation of design and fabrication alternatives, and allows the rapid corrections of identified deficiencies.”

For more information, visit: www.esi-group.com or www.astrium.eads.net

Published in ESI

A materials research scientist who works at NASA's Langley Research Center has been named 2013 Robert A. Mitcheltree Young Engineer of the Year - an award presented by the Hampton Roads Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

Dr. Hyun Jung Kim, who conducts her research in the Advanced Materials and Processing Branch at NASA Langley, but works for the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), is an internationally recognized scientist in the field of solid-state physics and energy harvesting, including advanced thermoelectric and solar cells.

The local AIAA chapter cites her work as, "a remarkable achievement in the field of thermoelectric material development and a gateway to utilize waste heat recovery technology for the green energy.” Her work at NASA Langley includes new material configurations and has led to a number of patent and invention disclosures related to emerging thermoelectrics and solar cell technologies.

“Dr. Kim is a very intelligent and gifted scientist who consistently has excellent solutions to challenging technical problems, and enjoys exploring new and interesting areas of research,” said Robert Bryant, NASA Langley's Advanced Materials and Processing Branch head. “One of the difficulties with her research topics is that the materials and devices do not exist and have to be created from the ground up. Consequently, the methods and instrumentation to measure and compare their effectiveness against the current technology also has to be developed from the ground up.”

This marks the second consecutive year that a member of NIA’s research staff, who works at NASA Langley, has been named Hampton Roads Section AIAAYoung Engineer of the Year. The local chapter is one of the largest chapters of the professional organization in the nation, and the nomination process for this award is highly competitive.

As the recipient of this award, Kim is also the HRS nominee for the Peninsula Engineers Council (PEC) 2013 Doug Ensor Award.

For more information, visit: info.aiaa.org/Regions/NE/Hampton_Roads/default.aspx

Published in NASA

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has donated aircraft structural parts and kits worth more than $800,000 to Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) for use in its research laboratories and training classes. Airbus donated an elevator for a horizontal tail and two APU change kits.

NIAR researchers John Tomblin and Waruna Seneviratne will use the articles for composite-metal hybrid structural durability and damage tolerance research programs and advance composites hands-on training classes that include composite fabrication, repair and testing. The advanced hands-on composite training class was first developed working with the John Papadatos, head of engineering and site director of Airbus Wichita. The class has been offered for Airbus engineers three times since 2011.

“This is a prime example of the benefit of partnerships between the aviation industry and universities,” said John Tomblin, NIAR executive director. “We’re grateful for Airbus’ investment in furthering aviation research and education and look forward to the existing potential in the growing partnership between Airbus and NIAR.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., has been a long-time supporter of NIAR and helped foster the partnership between the two entities.

“Airbus is a great community partner and this investment demonstrates their significant commitment to Wichita and to Kansas,” said Moran. “This generous contribution will provide students at NIAR with invaluable aviation research tools, helping to establish Wichita as a place for aviation companies and their leaders.”

“Airbus is pleased to support Wichita State University and education of the next generation of leaders in this industry,” said Barry Eccleston, president and CEO of Airbus Americas. “We already have a good partnership with WSU and are pleased they can use our donation for teaching and research.”  

For more information, visit: www.niar.wichita.edu

Published in NIAR

NASA was named the best place to work in the federal government among large agencies in a survey released today by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization. This ranking, which reflects NASA's highest results since this index was developed, makes clear that the agency's work force is focused on carrying out the nation's new and ambitious space program.

"The best workforce in the nation has made NASA the best place to work in federal government," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, who is accepting the award at a ceremony this morning in Washington, D.C. "Our employees are carrying out the nation's new strategic missions in space with heart-stopping landings on Mars, cutting-edge science and ground-breaking partnerships with American companies to resupplying the space station. They are truly leading in the innovation economy."

The rankings are based on responses from nearly 700,000 federal workers. The Best Places to Work rankings are based on data from the Office of Personnel Management's annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey conducted from April through June 2012 and additional survey data from nine agencies plus the Intelligence Community. This is the seventh edition of the Best Places to Work rankings since the first in 2003.

NASA's Stennis Space Center was ranked second in the sub-agency component category.

During the past year, NASA's employees continued to implement America's ambitious space exploration program, landing the most sophisticated rover on the surface of Mars, carrying out the first-ever commercial mission to the International Space Station and advancing the systems needed to send humans deeper into space.

Just last week, NASA announced the next Mars rover mission and recently announced the first year-long crew stay on the International Space Station. As the agency continues developing the capabilities to explore the solar system and beyond, as well as understand our home planet and make life better here, workers with a wide range of skills and interests will be critical.

For more about NASA, visit: nasajobs.nasa.gov

Published in NASA

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will host a March symposium on the nonmilitary uses of unmanned aerial vehicles. The “AIAA Policy Symposium: Civilian Applications of UAVs – A California Perspective” will take place March 26–28, 2013, at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza, Thousand Oaks, Calif. The event is co-hosted by California State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-44th District), California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, California State Senator Steve Knight (R-21st District), and California State Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-51st District).

The symposium will engage policymakers, designers, manufacturers, and consumers in discussion about the benefits of commercial and civil governmental UAV applications. These include the role of UAVs in wildfire detection and management, pollution management, event security, traffic monitoring, disaster relief, fisheries management, pipeline monitoring and oil and gas security, meteorology and storm tracking, remote aerial mapping, and transmission line inspection.

“AIAA is pleased to partner with California State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and other members of the California State Legislature, to offer this vital symposium on the civilian applications of unmanned aerial vehicles,” stated AIAA Executive Director Sandra H. Magnus. “While the military applications of UAVs are discussed nightly in our news media, many of the civilian uses of the vehicles go largely unconsidered. By offering this event, with a focus on the California airspace, we will bring together community and business leaders, public safety officers, engineers, scientists, and military personnel, to discuss how UAVs can be harnessed for the good of our communities, the safety of our populace, and the prosperity of all.” Assemblyman Gorell added, “I am very excited to co-host this important conference with AIAA and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom as a direct result of our California Gold Team efforts. This partnership with AIAA is a major opportunity to bring new manufacturing and much needed jobs to Southern California.”

For more information or to register, visit: www.aiaa.org/CAuav

Published in AIAA

Boeing (NYSE: BA) and the BMW Group signed a collaboration agreement to participate in joint research on carbon fiber recycling and share knowledge about carbon fiber materials and manufacturing.

Boeing and BMW are both pioneering the use of carbon fiber in their products.  Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is made up of 50 percent carbon fiber material and BMW will introduce two vehicles with passenger compartments made of carbon fiber in 2013. Recycling composite material at point of use and the end of product life is critical to both companies.

"This collaboration agreement is a very important step forward in developing the use and end use of carbon fiber materials," said Larry Schneider, Commercial Airplanes vice president of Product Development, who represented Boeing at the signing in Seattle. "It is especially important that we plan for the end of life of products made from carbon fiber.  We want to look at ways to reclaim and reuse those materials to make new products.  Our work with BMW will help us attain that goal."

"Boeing for us is a suitable partner for collaboration in the field of carbon fiber," said BMW AG for Development Board Member Herbert Diess. "Boeing has many years of extensive experience using carbon fiber in the field of aviation, while the BMW Group has earned a significant competitive advantage through its use of special manufacturing methods for series production of carbon fiber parts. Through this cooperation, we can merge know-how between our industries in the field of sustainable production solutions."

As part of the collaboration agreement, Boeing and the BMW Group will also share carbon fiber manufacturing process simulations and ideas for manufacturing automation.

BMW opened a plant in Moses Lake, Wash. in 2011 that will provide carbon fiber parts for the 2013 i3 and i8 models. Both new models will be assembled in Leipzig, Germany.

Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire was instrumental in securing the location for the BMW plant and promoted the partnership between Boeing and BMW.

"This exciting partnership between two global players and industry leaders is a win for our state," said Gregoire. "This will help Washington further develop our capabilities and leadership position in the game-changing technology of carbon fiber. I'm pleased that BMW and Boeing have joined forces as this is a logical next step for the industry."

The collaboration agreement between Boeing and the BMW Group is the first in the history of either company. The BMW Group is made up of BMW, Mini, Husqvarna Motorcycles and Rolls-Royce automobiles.

Published in Boeing

Mars One is pleased to announce the conversion of its corporation to a Dutch “stichting,” a not-for-profit foundation whose primary goal is to take humanity to Mars. The first four astronauts are planned to land on Mars in 2023, with four additional crew members arriving every two years thereafter.

Since the launch of its website in June 2012, Mars One has enjoyed a profound, international following. With more than 850,000 unique visitors to the website, Mars One has received thousands of emails. Among those emails were more than one thousand requests from individuals who desire to go to Mars--well before the launch of the Astronaut Selection Program. Furthermore, Mars One is supported by a large groups of advisers and ambassadors, among them an astronaut, a Nobel prize winning physicist and several NASA scientists.

Mars One recognized the potential to embrace this show of global support by conversion to a not-for-profit foundation. Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and President of Mars-One offers, “A foundation more accurately represents how the Mars One team feels about this mission, and how the world has embraced our plan, even in this early stage. We receive so many kind and supportive emails, people offer donations or offer to helpin whatever way they can. The conversion to a foundation represents that going to Mars is something we do as a united world.”

In the first half of 2013 Mars One will launch the Astronaut Selection Program, a search to find the best candidates for the 'next giant leap of mankind'. The search will be global, open to every person from every nation. As a Foundation, Mars One will be the owner of the human outpost on Mars, the simulation bases on Earth, and the employer of the astronauts, both in training here on Earth, and those on Mars.

Arno Wielders, co-founder and technical director of Mars One: “Sending humans to Mars has been my dream for twenty years. Evidently, I am not alone--we have received emails from over fifty countries. People in thirty seven countries have purchased our merchandise, demonstrating their support for Mars One. Regardless of their background, people are positive about this optimistic event that we believe will bring people of Earth a little bit closer together.”

Mars One is already sponsored by companies from all over the world. Now, Mars One is also accepting individual donations to enable people to contribute to the next giant leap of mankind. Donations are applied toward daily operations at Mars One, the Conceptual Design Studies, and preparation for the Astronaut Selection Program.

For more information, visit: www.mars-one.com

Published in Mars One

NASA is offering high school junior girls from across the United States an opportunity to jump-start their future by participating in the Women In STEM High School (WISH) Aerospace Scholars program for 2013.

WISH participants will participate in online forums focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics, and complete online activities to qualify for a six-day summer experience at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. During the summer experience, they will work with mentors to design a mission to Mars, interact with NASA female role models, and mingle with scientists and engineers as they learn about careers in STEM.

Applications are due January 3, 2013. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, female high school juniors with a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher and interested in STEM. They must have access to the Internet and e-mail, be able to commit to the project for one year and participate in the Johnson summer program in 2013.

For more information, visit: wish.aerospacescholars.org

Published in NASA

Building on the success of Curiosity's Red Planet landing, NASA has announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020. This announcement affirms the agency's commitment to a bold exploration program that meets our nation's scientific and human exploration objectives.

"The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration program," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "With this next mission, we're ensuring America remains the world leader in the exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step toward sending humans there in the 2030s."

The planned portfolio includes the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers; two NASA spacecraft and contributions to one European spacecraft currently orbiting Mars; the 2013 launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter to study the Martian upper atmosphere; the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars; and participation in ESA's 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions, including providing "Electra" telecommunication radios to ESA's 2016 mission and a critical element of the premier astrobiology instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover.

The plan to design and build a new Mars robotic science rover with a launch in 2020 comes only months after the agency announced InSight, which will launch in 2016, bringing a total of seven NASA missions operating or being planned to study and explore our Earth-like neighbor.

The 2020 mission will constitute another step toward being responsive to high-priority science goals and the president's challenge of sending humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s.

The future rover development and design will be based on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that successfully carried the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer. This will ensure mission costs and risks are as low as possible, while still delivering a highly capable rover with a proven landing system. The mission will constitute a vital component of a broad portfolio of Mars exploration missions in development for the coming decade.

The mission will advance the science priorities of the National Research Council's 2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey and responds to the findings of the Mars Program Planning Group established earlier this year to assist NASA in restructuring its Mars Exploration Program.

"The challenge to restructure the Mars Exploration Program has turned from the seven minutes of terror for the Curiosity landing to the start of seven years of innovation," NASA's associate administrator for science, and astronaut John Grunsfeld said. "This mission concept fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a favorable launch opportunity."

The specific payload and science instruments for the 2020 mission will be openly competed, following the Science Mission Directorate's established processes for instrument selection. This process will begin with the establishment of a science definition team that will be tasked to outline the scientific objectives for the mission.

This mission fits within the five-year budget plan in the president's Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, and is contingent on future appropriations.

Plans also will include opportunities for infusing new capabilities developed through investments by NASA's Space Technology Program, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and contributions from international partners.

For information, visit: www.nasa.gov/mars

Published in NASA

Based at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas, the Trainer Development Flight (TDF) is a facility that designs, develops, and manufactures trainers and training aids for the Air Force and all branches of the Department of Defense (DoD) as required. These items are used in numerous training environments, including avionics, weapons and fuel systems, medical readiness, HVAC, and telecommunications systems.

The trainers and training aids may be either original products or replicas of existing ones, depending on the training need. Some devices are not required to be working units, so it usually isn’t cost-efficient to purchase the actual item. For most training applications, it’s more economical to train students on replicas, instead of the often extremely expensive equipment.

The TDF uses direct digital manufacturing to fabricate a wide majority of its training products. To do so, it employs four FDM additive fabrication machines in a centralized location with AFSO 21 (Lean) processes incorporated into the overall process.

Real Challenge

Before adding direct digital manufacturing to its processes, the TDF used conventional manufacturing methods to make its products. Conventional manufacturing typically requires longer lead times because there is often multiple steps, such as machining, lathe work, welding, sheet metal bending and cutting. A similar difficulty occurs when producing tooling to mold a part.

“Because most of our projects are either one-of-a-kind or very low volume, conventional methods become very expensive,” says Mitchell Weatherly, Chief of the TDF. “Only about 10 percent of our work is for prototyping, and 90 percent is production.”

Real Solution

Before settling on FDM, the TDF considered “a multitude” of the other additive processes, says Weatherly. “With FDM, the investment is up front, not ongoing,” he says. “The parts are durable, and they have the high level of detail we require. In addition, the process is environmentally safe and 100% ‘green’ with zero waste.”

The TDF is responsible for designing and manufacturing an exact replica of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or “drone” for training repair technicians. It has built a variety of internal and external components using its FDM machines. The components included most of the body components as well as several cowlings, propellers, and antennas. They also purchased a number of real UAV components from the OEM.

Real Benefits

Just for producing the UAV’s large antenna alone, using the FDM machines did the job in about one-tenth the time it would normally have taken with conventional methods, and it delivered an ROI of over $12,000. The savings go beyond time, though. For the antenna, it would have taken an outsourced machine shop up to 20 days to produce the part, where it took only two days using FDM — but only 15 to 20 minutes of labor. For the entire UAV project there was a total time saved of more than 3 years in some areas. This project, along with other trainer savings has been very impressive with an $800,000 cost avoidance over the last four years.

“Major advantages to the FDM system include its speed over other processes or alternative build methods, the versatility of FDM versus injection molding, and the ability to run multiple parts simultaneously through the system,” says Weatherly. Benefits include ease of maintenance, as well as the availability to use multiple materials for a variety of purposes. “Additional capabilities include the ability to design based on function needs instead of manufacturing constraints, and the ability to implement design changes immediately and at minimal costs. The versatility to manufacture any item coupled with zero hazardous waste is one of the greatest advantages to the Air Force,” says Weatherly. ”The FDM-based machines have been used for a number of trainer projects which have tight budgets. We have also utilized the FDM process for research and development for our airmen and soldiers to be able to train like we fight.

“For our first FDM machine purchase, we projected ROI in 4 years, but it took only 18 months,” Weatherly says. “For our second FDM machine purchase we saw ROI in only 9 months. You will never get away from conventional methods and highly skilled technicians, but you can give them the proper tools and new technology that can make their job easier and competitive. I believe FDM is one of the technologically advanced premier manufacturing methods available. Since 2004, when we purchased our first of four machines, the FDM process has saved the government over $3.8 million to date with an expected 10-to-15-year savings of over $15 million. “

[Editors’ Note: The TDF (Trainer Development Flight) has won the 2008 Air Force Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award for its use of FDM technology and other advanced production methods. It is recognized as the premier center of excellence for manufacturing trainers and training aid products for the Air Force and other required Department of Defense agencies.]

For more information, visit: www.stratasys.com

Published in Stratasys

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is pleased to announce that leaders from academia, government, and industry will gather in January in the Dallas–Fort Worth area at the 51st AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition, January 7–10, at the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Convention Center, in Grapevine, Texas.

In addition to a wide range of technical sessions on aerospace science and engineering, the event will feature a series of keynote addresses and panel discussions, with the New Horizons Forum putting special emphasis on the theme “Aerospace Science – We Push the Envelope, We Solve Hard Problems, We Build the Future.”

The keynote speakers for the New Horizons Forum include:

Monday, January 7, 1:30 p.m. – Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, deputy chief of staff, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Headquarters, United States Air Force

Tuesday, January 8, 8:00 a.m. – Maj. Gen. William Neil McCasland, commander, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, U. S. Air Force

Thursday, January 10, 8:00 a.m. – Joy L. Bryant, vice president and general manager, International Space Station, Space Exploration, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems

Panel discussions for the New Horizon Forum will include:

Wednesday, January 9, 9:30–11:30 a.m.: Spin-on Technology for Aeronautics and Space, featuring: Paul Giangarra, IBM distinguished engineer, IBM; Rich Friedrich, director, Cognition Based Analytics, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories; Kent Cunningham, chief technology officer, Microsoft Corporation and Wyatt Kash, editorial director, AOL Government. The panel will be moderated by Rupak Biswas, division chief, Advanced Supercomputing Division, NASA Ames Research Center

Over 1,300 technical papers are expected to be presented at the conference.

The 51st AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting will also offer a new program for young professionals, who will one day assume leadership roles in the aerospace community. AIAA’s inaugural “Rising Leaders in Aerospace Forum” will allow young aerospace professionals, age 35 and under, to engage with other aerospace professionals to learn best practices and gain valuable advice and guidance. The forum will feature a speed mentoring leadership exchange, panel and keynote sessions, Q&A sessions with top industry leaders, and multiple networking opportunities.

Other career-oriented sessions being offered to attendees at the Aerospace Sciences Meeting include:

Tuesday, January 8, 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: "Tactical Maneuvering – Charting Your Own Career: A Career Workforce Development Workshop"

Tuesday, January 8, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: "Get Your Green Card – Immigration Options for Scientists and R&D Engineers"

Wednesday, January 9, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: "Intellectual Property Law Workshop"

Also featured are a series of distinguished lectures, which are free and open to the public:

Monday, January 7, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – The AIAA Durand Lectureship in Public Servicewill be presented by Gen. John R. Dailey, United States Marine Corps (retired), director, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C. The Durand Lectureship, named in honor of William F. Durand, was approved by the Board of Directors in 1983. It is presented for notable achievements by a scientific or technical leader whose contributions have led directly to the understanding and application of the science and technology of aeronautics and astronautics for the betterment of mankind.

Monday, January 7, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – The AIAA Dryden Lectureship in Research will be presented by Alan H. Epstein, vice president, technology and environment, Pratt & Whitney Corporation, East Hartford, Conn. The title of the lecture will be “Mechanics and Dynamics Research for Advanced Airbreathing Propulsion.” The Dryden Lectureship in Research emphasizes the great importance of basic research to the advancement in aeronautics and astronautics, and salutes research scientists and engineers.

Tuesday, January 8, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – The AIAA Wright Brothers Lecture in Aeronautics will be presented by Thomas J. Cogan, director, airplane product development, Boeing Commercial Airlines (retired), Seattle, Wash. The title of the lecture will be:“Creating the Dream: Development of the 787 Dreamliner.”

Wednesday, January 9, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – The AIAA von Kármán Lectureship in Astronautics will be presented by James H. Crocker, vice president and general manager, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colo. The title of the lecture will be: “From Galileo to Hubble: Mankind’s Extraordinary Journey.” The von Kármán Lectureship in Astronautics honors an individual who has performed notably and with distinction technically in the field of astronautics.

The 51st AIAA ASM Executive Chair is Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer, Lockheed Martin Corporation. The New Horizons Forum is chaired by Lt. Gen. John T. “Tom” Sheridan, U.S. Air Force (retired), vice president, National Security Space, The SI Organization, Inc. The Aerospace Sciences Meeting chair is Rob Vermeland, manager, aerodynamics and acoustics, Advanced Development Programs, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company.

Registration for the 51st AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exhibition is free for credentialed members of the media.

For more information or to register, visit: www.aiaa.org/ASM2013

Published in AIAA

Imagine landing on the moon or Mars, putting rocks through a 3-D printer and making something useful – like a needed wrench or replacement part.

"It sounds like science fiction, but now it’s really possible,’’ says Amit Bandyopadhyay, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.

Bandyopadhyay and a group of colleagues recently published a paper in Rapid Prototyping Journal demonstrating how to print parts using materials from the moon.
 
Approached by NASA
 
Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, are well known researchers in the area of three-dimensional printing for creation of bone-like materials for orthopedic implants.

In 2010, researchers from NASA initiated discussion with Bandyopadhyay, asking if the research team might be able to print 3-D objects from moon rock.
 
Because of the tremendous expense of space travel, researchers strive to limit what space ships have to carry. Establishment of a lunar or Martian outpost would require using the materials that are on hand for construction or repairs. That’s where the 3-D fabrication technology might come in.

Three-dimensional fabrication technology, also known as additive manufacturing, allows researchers to produce complex 3-D objects directly from computer-aided design (CAD) models, printing the material layer by layer. In this case, the material is heated using a laser to high temperatures and prints out like melting candle wax to a desired shape.

Simple shapes built
 
To test the idea, NASA researchers provided Bandyopadhyay and Bose with 10 pounds of raw lunar regolith simulant, an imitation moon rock that is used for research purposes.

The WSU researchers were concerned about how the moon rock material - which is made of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxides - would melt. But they found it behaved similarly to silica, and they built a few simple shapes.

The researchers are the first to demonstrate the ability to fabricate parts using the moon-like material. They sent their pieces to NASA.
 
"It doesn’t look fantastic, but you can make something out of it,’’ says Bandyopadhyay.
 
Tailoring composition, geometry
 
Using additive manufacturing, the material could also be tailored, the researchers say. If you want a stronger building material, for instance, you could perhaps use some moon rock with earth-based additives.

"The advantage of additive manufacturing is that you can control the composition as well as the geometry,’’ says Bose.

In the future, the researchers hope to show that the lunar material could be used to do remote repairs.

"It is an exciting science fiction story, but maybe we’ll hear about it in the next few years,’’ says Bandyopadhyay. "As long as you can have additive manufacturing set up, you may be able to scoop up and print whatever you want. It’s not that far-fetched.’’
 
The research was supported by a $750,000 W.M. Keck Foundation grant.

For more information, visit: www.mme.wsu.edu

GE Aviation has acquired the assets of Morris Technologies, and its sister company, Rapid Quality Manufacturing, precision manufacturing companies operating in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio.  Terms were not disclosed.

The two privately-held companies, with about 130 Cincinnati-area employees, specialize in additive manufacturing, an automated process for creating rapid prototypes and end-use production components.

With this acquisition, GE Aviation continues to expand its engineering and manufacturing capabilities to meet its growing jet engine production rates over the next five years. In addition to acquiring these manufacturing processes, GE Aviation will open two new production plants in the United States next year.

"Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing are parts of our investment in emerging manufacturing technologies," said Colleen Athans, vice president and general manager of the Supply Chain Division at GE Aviation.  "Our ability to develop state-of-the-art manufacturing processes for emerging materials and complex design geometry is critical to our future.  We are so fortunate to have Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing just minutes from our headquarters.  We know them well."

The additive manufacturing process involves taking digital designs from computer aided design (CAD) software, and laying horizontal cross-sections to manufacture the part.  The process creates the layered cross-sections using a laser beam to melt the raw material. These parts tend to be lighter than traditional forged parts because they don't require the same level of welding.  Additive manufacturing also generates less scrap material during the fabrication process.

Founded by Cincinnati natives Greg Morris, Wendell Morris and Bill Noack in 1994, Morris Technologies (Sharonville) and Rapid Quality Manufacturing (West Chester) have supplied parts to GE Aviation for several years, as well as to GE Power Systems and our Global Research Center. The companies have made everything from lightweight parts for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the U.S. military to hip replacement prototypes for the medical field.  The Sharonville and West Chester facilities will become part of GE Aviation's global network of manufacturing operations.

Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing have already been contracted by GE Aviation to produce components for the best-selling LEAP jet engine being developed by CFM International, a 50/50 joint company of GE and Snecma (SAFRAN) of France.  The LEAP engine, which is scheduled to enter service in the middle of this decade on three different narrow-body aircraft, has already received more than 4,000 engine orders before the first full engine has even gone to test.

Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing focus on the aerospace, energy, oil & gas, and medical industries.

GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, components, and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.

For more information, visit: www.geaviation.com

Published in GE

Business leaders, space enthusiasts, students and the public are invited to attend NASA Technology Days. The free, three-day public technology showcase will take place at the Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center Nov. 28-30. Participants from industry, academia and the U.S. Government will discuss strategy development, partnerships and methods to foster technology transfer and innovation.

The showcase will feature NASA-funded technologies available for transfer to the aerospace, advanced-energy, automotive, innovative manufacturing and human-health industries. The venue will provide opportunities for networking, business development and forging new relationships, including dialogue with NASA technology program leadership.

NASA officials will discuss the agency's upcoming technology initiatives, technology transfer and strategic partnerships. NASA centers also will provide exhibits and information on how businesses can partner with the agency for technology development, transfer and innovation. Attendees also can learn about leading technologies contributing to American economic growth and innovation.

NASA Technology Days is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

For more information or to register, visit: www.aiaa.org/nasatechdays

Published in NASA

Honeywell Aerospace, Phoenix, AZ, has received the 2012 Higgins-Caditz Design Award, as part of the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Awards of Excellence in Metalforming, for its HTF7000 propulsion systems.  Honeywell Aerospace has more than 38,000 employees at more than 100 sites worldwide and is involved in all aspects of aerospace engine manufacturing.

As part of a combustor assembly in its 7,000-pound thrust propulsion engines, Honeywell uses 16 tiled heat shields.  These are machined from a cast Haynes material.  Honeywell Aerospace project engineer Thomas F. Johnson and staff engineer Ronald B. Pardington redesigned the heat shield to allow it to be stamped.  They worked closely with Cygnet Stamping & Fabricating Inc. in Glendale, CA, to develop the tooling and eventually produce a stamped heat shield.
 
The new stamped part is made from 0.040 inch Haynes sheet, reducing the weight by over 50 percent and the cost by over 85 percent compared to the machined heat shield, resulting in substantial yearly savings.  In addition, the company benefited from a significant engine weight reduction.

The Design Award is one of eight Awards of Excellence in Metalforming presented annually by PMA.  Created by the Worcester Pressed Steel Co., Worcester, MA, and sponsored by The Quarterly Club, the design award recognizes a manufacturing company for outstanding achievement in developing an innovative product design.  Along with recognition in industry publications and at events, Honeywell will receive a $1,500 cash prize, which will be donated to the Challenger Space Center Arizona, a local non-profit organization providing vital science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs to students primarily in grades K-8.

PMA is the full-service trade association representing the $113-billion metalforming industry of North America—the industry that creates precision metal products using stamping, fabricating, spinning, slide forming and roll forming technologies, and other value-added processes.  Its nearly 900 member companies also include suppliers of equipment, materials and services to the industry.  PMA leads innovative member companies toward superior competitiveness and profitability through advocacy, networking, statistics, the PMA Educational Foundation, FABTECH and METALFORM tradeshows, and MetalForming magazine.

For more information, visit: www.pma.org/awards

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama is using a method called selective laser melting, or SLM, to create intricate metal parts for America's next heavy-lift rocket. Using this state-of-the-art technique will benefit the agency by saving millions in manufacturing costs.

NASA is building the Space Launch System or SLS -- a rocket managed at the Marshall Center and designed to take humans, equipment and experiments beyond low Earth orbit to nearby asteroids and eventually to Mars.

"Basically, this machine takes metal powder and uses a high-energy laser to melt it in a designed pattern," says Ken Cooper, advanced manufacturing team lead at the Marshall Center. "The laser will layer the melted dust to fuse whatever part we need from the ground up, creating intricate designs. The process produces parts with complex geometries and precise mechanical properties from a three-dimensional computer-aided design."

There are two major benefits to this process, which are major considerations for the Space Launch System Program: savings and safety.

"This process significantly reduces the manufacturing time required to produce parts from months to weeks or even days in some cases," said Andy Hardin, the integration hardware lead for the Engines Office in SLS. "It's a significant improvement in affordability, saving both time and money. Also, since we're not welding parts together, the parts are structurally stronger and more reliable, which creates an overall safer vehicle."

The emerging technology will build parts for America's next flagship rocket more affordably and efficiently, while increasing the safety of astronauts and the workforce. Some of the "printed" engine parts will be structurally tested and used in hot-fire tests of a J-2X engine later this year. The J-2X will be used as the upper stage engine for the SLS.

The goal is to use selective laser melting to manufacture parts on the first SLS test flight in 2017.

The agency procured the M2 Cusing machine, built by Concept Laser -- a division of Hoffman Innovation Group of Lichtenfels, Germany to perform the selective-laser-manufacturing.

For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/selective_melting.html

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