From the U.S. Air Force’s production of cost-effective 3D printed cup handles and 3D printed military aircraft toilet seat covers, additive manufacturing continues to provide innovative part solutions for military and naval industries.
Lockheed Martin, a Maryland-based aerospace and defense company, has emphasized its 5Ps Additive Manufacturing Model to demonstrate the potential of additive manufacturing in the lifecycle of a typical U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) program.
“We look to insert the right level of additive capabilities at each of our factories to support production and keep our innovation centers focused on development,” said Carolyn Preisendanz, Director of Advanced Manufacturing Technology at Lockheed Martin RMS in an article by Robert Ghobrial, Technical Fellow and AM Technology Strategist Lockheed Martin, Training and Logistics Solutions (TLS) division.
3D printing is no longer a novelty
According to Lockheed’s Ghobrial, following the establishment of Lockheed Martin’s Training and Logistics plant in Florida five years ago, 3D parts insertion on end-use applications has increased.
“We understood that 3D printing could mature into a widely accepted manufacturing method for real parts beyond keychains and novelty items,” added Ghobrial.
With this growth, 3D printing has gone from producing small-scale part prototypes to large-scale industrial components for advanced sectors – such as Lockheed Martin’s titanium 3D printed domes used within on-board orbiting satellites.
The 5Ps Additive Manufacturing Model
Lockheed Martin’s Additive Manufacturing Model serves as a communication tool from proposal to end-use production for a standard DoD program.
Proposal is the first area within Lockheed Martin’s Additive Manufacturing Model. By swiftly creating concept models of new military training products, 3D printing can improve client to customer communication.
Prototype can aid with design validation and proof of concept development. Rapidly producing 3D printed prototypes allow engineers to investigate more innovative designs, which can potentially lead to enhanced product features and improved training capacities.
Procurement leverages 3D printing technologies decrease supply chain risks, times, and costs. Rather than sources parts externally, the DoD can explore the implementation of additive equipment in the battlefield and shipboard for in-house part fabrication.
Production support involves utilizing 3D printing to create assembly aids to meet quality and yield targets. Staff members have the capabilities of developing fixtures, jigs, and machine safeguards to achieve repeatable quality products.
Production is the final and most important area of this model. According to Ghobrial, Lockheed Martin’s Training and Solutions (TLS) team produces has placed more than 10,000 parts in end-use production in more than 50 different programs.
“The model has served as a great tool to engage the whole of the organization in the AM journey,” stated Ghobrial.
“We no longer have additive engineers pushing the technology. Often, it’s our internal and external customers asking us how we plan to implement additive on their projects to drive business results.”
Lockheed Martin plans on continuing its journey into large-scale industrial additive manufacturing. Ghobrial adds:
“The ability to produce monolithic structures will greatly reduce training cost to our warfighters, allowing more trainers to be fielded, enhancing pilot readiness in the fleet worldwide.”
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Featured image shows the Lockheed Martin aerospace facility in New Jersey. Photo via NJ.com.