Digital printing is beginning to impact DoD casting and composite manufacturing processes. This new process is revitalizing the U.S. foundry industry by increasing their capabilities and adding to the number of foundries qualified to deliver castings. This will strengthen the diminishing supplier base for cast components and make these foundries more competitive. ExOne, working with Lockheed-Sikorsky, has been working to significantly improve the casting of process for rotorcraft. The development of this process is leading to higher performance and quality standards.
This approach is founded upon five key elements:
- Customer and supplier requirements
- Digital mold and core production
- Advanced casting modeling
- Low-pressure sand casting
- Integrated project team
In addition to castings, the digital printing process is impacting other DoD manufacturing processes and products. Large-scale carbon fiber or polymer fiber aircraft ducting and structural composite parts are being produced through the use of wash-out tooling produced using binder jet 3D-printed molds. Lockheed and ExOne will discuss the new casting process and highlight the benefits related to producing new and legacy castings and discuss how wash out tooling for composites will impact how aircraft ducting and structural composites components are manufactured.
- Describe the current state of the art for the digital printing process for castings and composite manufacturing
- Determine when the digital printing process should be applied in manufacturing composite parts
- Determine when the digital printing process should be applied for producing castings
Why Is It Important?
An Industry Week article on Oct. 16, 2018, covered the potential shortage of key components on the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter due to bankruptcy of a key supplier. The article states that the Navy plans to buy 200 of the helicopters, a lucrative opportunity that was the prime motivation for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed’s $9 billion acquisition of Sikorsky Aircraft from United Technologies Corp. in 2015. The Marines are scheduled to declare the helicopter operational in December 2019. Delays in the delivery of complex castings has put deliveries at risk and has become an issue that has to be addressed. Because of this, President Donald Trump signed a memo in February 2018 that authorized use of funds under the Title III act “to ensure the industrial base for thin wall castings” as “essential to manufacturing cutting-edge components for next-generation rotorcraft platforms.”
This presentation will discuss the recent advancements in digital manufacturing and how it will help address this problem and others for critical components for the defense industrial base.