Driving the Future of A&D Manufacturers

Digital technologies, which were once considered a "nice to have" or "something for the tomorrow," have become more trustworthy and ubiquitous.

Fremont, CA: The alignment with risk reduction and concerns about implementing changes, as well as the potential influence on production processes, are two defining characteristics of the aerospace and defense (A&D) manufacturing industry. With a strong emphasis on quality, safety, and regulatory compliance, many manufacturers are content to stick with ‘tried and tested’ manufacturing models and technology. However, digital technologies, which were once considered a “nice to have” or “something for the tomorrow,” have become more trustworthy and ubiquitous. The industry is starting to recognize the value of executing programs on the cloud rather than merely on-premises. Initiatives to modernize and globalize the sector as a whole are gaining traction. Manufacturers of A&D products must adapt or risk being left behind. 

Here are some of the advanced technology trends that make industry players keep pace with the digital change in the coming year. Let’s take a look.

1. Additive Manufacturing  

Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is not a new concept. Despite these advancements, the A&D industry has not seen widespread acceptance. However, it has now become clear that it has grown and can play an important role. This manufacturing technology enables the creation of unique parts from practically any place, with stronger and lighter designs that use fewer materials. 

2. Smart Materials 

The possibilities for smart materials innovation are enormous and revolutionary: electronic sensors, actuators, self-healing fuselages, and more. The number of A&D use cases is rising. These smart materials can improve the lifetime of modern aircraft by making them resistant to conditions that often destroy electric motors. 

3. Increasing Digitalization 

The A&D value chain has gotten increasingly complex. As a result, many businesses have elected to adapt their operations to obtain maximum flexibility, with new process and product designs, or, on a bigger scale, ramping up advanced technologies across the manufacturing lifecycle. Companies are now refining their legacy designs to generate new components at a faster rate. Moving away from paper-based production and manual processes reduces the danger of wasting time or making mistakes as more A&D organizations implement greater levels of digitalization. Manufacturers must ensure that they are making sensible decisions rather than ‘easy’ ones as they transition to digital.

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