Materialise software engineers have integrated the company’s additive manufacturing (AM) technology into Siemens Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software Inc.’s NX computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE) software to prepare CAD models for powder bed fusion and material jetting 3D printing processes. The result links NX with Materialise lattice technology and supports structures design, 3D nesting, build tray preparation, and build processors framework technology for AM. The integration eliminates data translation and conversions, and ensures that changes to digital product design models are automatically and associatively reflected in the 3D print jobs for greater model accuracy, higher quality, and a faster design-to-production process.

A partnership agreement between the two companies allows Siemens’ PLM software business to sell the integrated solution through its global sales channels. www.materialise.com;www.siemens.com

3D printed parts for US military satellites

An aluminum electronic enclosure designed to hold avionic circuits, a remote interface unit, will be the first 3D-printed part certified for use on a Lockheed Martin military satellite when the U.S. Air Force’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite launches.

By going from multiple machined parts to one 3D-printed part, engineers saved time in the design and production cycle, and increased the quality and consistency of the units. The lead time for manufacturing the part went from 6 months to 1.5 months, with assembly time reduced from 12 hours to 3 hours.

“3D printing provides the ability to rapidly implement innovation by controlling production from design through implementation with one digital model,” says Iris Bombelyn, vice president of protected communications at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

AEHF is a global military satellite communications system that provides protected, assured communication for strategic commanders and tactical warfighters. Lockheed Martin will deliver the fourth AEHF vehicle in 2017. AEHF-5 and AEHF-6 are in production and are on track to launch in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

The qualified part onboard AEHF-6 was built using laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing (AM), in which a laser melts and fuses aluminum metal powder layer-by-layer to build a part. The electronic enclosure will serve as a model for use on other programs that are designed using the A2100 satellite bus.

Lockheed Martin produced the first 3D-printed parts to fly on an interplanetary spacecraft, Juno, orbiting Jupiter, and a 3D-printed part flew on Orion’s first flight. Additionally, technicians are qualifying large, 3D-printed fuel tanks for the modernized A2100 satellite bus. www.lockheedmartin.com

Additive manufacturing in civil aviation

Additive manufacturing (AM) materials sold into civil aviation will surpass $650 million in revenues in 2022 and AM hardware sales will surpass $850 million in that same timeframe, according to SmarTech Publishing, an analyst firm for 3D printing and additive manufacturing. In the report, “Opportunities for Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace 2017 – Civil Aviation: An Opportunity Analysis and Ten-Year Forecast,” analysts project opportunities emerging in commercial and general aviation in metal AM and polymer AM (metal replacement and composite).

The report notes advancements in computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided engineering (CAE), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), and product lifecycle management (PLM) software are driving the need for AM in commercial and general aviation manufacturing. Optimized, complex shapes and the need for automated production make AM attractive for more production requirements.

Powder bed polymer and metal AM are expected to benefit from new systems that support open materials. www.smartechpublishing.com