Additive manufacturing has some important advantages for defense and aerospace companies that can help them remain compliant, protect their intellectual property, and decrease production costs.
Fremont, CA: Mechanical products are usually associated with additive manufacturing technology, and processes and these methods are already being used in the aerospace industry to manufacture parts for commercial aircraft and parts for jet engines. However, innovation in scalable deposition and curing processes has allowed fully functional electronics to be produced additively.
Let us look at three key benefits of additive manufacturing:
Physical Layer Security
Introducing an additive manufacturing system in-house enables defense systems designers to engage with specific physical layer security mechanisms without disclosing those designs to an outside party. The degree of complexity that can be introduced on an additively produced PCB enables product designers without raising manufacturing time or costs to incorporate component embedding, complex interconnect architecture, or any other physical layer security measure.
High-Complexity, Low-Volume Manufacturing with a Fixed Cost Structure
Additive manufacturing systems can be used to make a single part with a lower weight than the same part produced from separate pieces. This removes assembly steps and post-processing steps that are usually needed with electrical and mechanical products. Although the cost of up-front materials can be high, there is over 90 percent less waste than subtractive processes in additive systems. Also, since 3D printed parts are typically lighter than those produced using conventional production processes, fuel usage is improved, which means lower costs and less emissions, minimizing the environmental impact.
In-House Production of Individual Parts
Bringing in-house manufacturing capabilities enables product designers during production to easily manufacture and test a single prototype part. Instead of waiting until a design is completed to create a prototype, designers can produce and instantly test prototypes during the design process. Because lead times can be reduced to a matter of days or hours for producing electronic or mechanical goods using an additive manufacturing system, product designers can easily test their new designs in-house and evaluate the required redesigns. This shortens the period of product creation and can help decrease the degree of any redesigns needed.
Additive manufacturing also helps in periodic or emergency maintenance of mission-critical systems. The ability to manufacture a single component in a matter of hours makes it possible to fix an aging aircraft or another machine easily with a new part of better quality. Using an additive manufacturing method to manufacture on-demand replacement parts ensures that inventory levels can be held to a minimum and removes the need to wait for the shipment of replacement parts to their site. This will help maintenance teams rapidly get these systems back online, offering a cost-effective, efficient and stable way to reduce downtime and keep aircraft in the air.
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