Over the last two decades, most aircraft and many space programs have used Dassault Systèmes software. During that time, the Aerospace and Defense companies have experienced tremendous change. Looking ahead, we see the industry relying on technology to solve complex challenges impacting program integrity and affordability. Putting the same tools to work used in detail design, manufacturing and collaboration to manage and optimize program management means more time for innovation.
The future of additive manufacturing: printing a satellite?
Looking ahead three to five years, the advent of additive manufacturing in production (sometimes called 3D printing) will continue to develop. Space companies will benefit as the still emerging work by the aviation industry to employ additive manufacturing processes progress. The work, to significantly enhance production times and product performance (strength, weight and environmental impact) holds great promise. With additive manufacturing, companies will have the ability to design any shape, creating opportunity for a paradigm shift in the industry. With this technology capability, manufacturers may be able to reduce waste by up to 90 percent and eliminate mistakes that impact cost and quality. Additive manufacturing may also shift space companies’ approach to manufacturing. New ways of production may be possible. It may be conceivable to print a satellite once the technology is mature.
Today the industry already does some pretty amazing things with additive manufacturing, but the next steps will be certifying the materials, the methods, and the practices. In step with virtual validation strategies, as mentioned, we partnered with Safran Group, a leading international high-technology aerospace, defense and security company, to develop expertise in the virtual validation of the additive manufacturing process. With an end-to-end digital solution platform, manufacturers can address all engineering parameters for the additive manufacturing of an engine part — inclusive of material science, functional specification, generative design, 3D printing optimization, multi-robotic production and certification.
A key component for the successful integration of additive manufacturing into the space and aviation segments is the development of new materials. This requires an understanding of these materials right down to the molecular level – how they perform under various scenarios, how they can be efficiently and cost-effectively manufactured, and how each piece of the ultimate system can be certified. A recent partnership between Dassault Systèmes and the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University targets the development of new applications for additive manufacturing to evolve airplane design, production and operation into a new era.
Already additive manufacturing enables possibilities traditional manufacturing processes do not. Engineers can design systems that include moving-part products that are manufactured in one piece via 3D printers. But, looking toward the future, additive manufacturing capabilities, in tandem with simulation tools that optimize design and manufacturing, will lead to design innovation not yet imagined.
New technology, new frontiers
An exciting era for aerospace and defense companies, new technology drives better program performance and integrity. Successful companies will be innovators that attract top talent, create new business opportunities (such as space tourism) and new ways to delight existing customers (such as offering full aftermarket services). Bold advancements remain the hallmark of the Industry that pioneered air and space travel. This industry spirit continues focused on new challenges.