Additive Talks | New Space & AM: Current Applications driving industrialization & technological challenges

To kick-off season 4 of Additive Talks, we gathered Melissa Orme, Vice President for Additive Manufacturing at Boeing and William C. Haddad, Director, Additive Design and Manufacturing at Collins Aerospace, an RTX business around a virtual table.

In a conversation hosted by Kety SINDZE, they discussed the billion-dollar industry that is space and how AM is finding its place among the multiple challenges space companies have to overcome to place satellites, probes, landers, telescopes or even spacecraft in orbit.

So, how far can we go with the use of AM in this vertical industry?

In the first part of the conversation, Orme and Haddad first discussed the respective positioning of their company with regard to AM as well as applications driving industrialization.

As you may know, Boeing has been using AM for so many years now – yet, the company has built its reputation on a very “traditional technological expertise”.  During the first minutes of the video below, Orme explains the reasons why Boeing does not have a “fast and fail” approach as most startups in the industry and the timeline that highlights their adoption curve of AM.

Collins Aerospace has six different strategic business units related to different aircraft systems, such as Advanced Structures, Mission Systems, Power and Controls, among others. These units are based in facilities across the USA, from California to Connecticut. Haddad explains how they continuously develop knowledge from which each of these units benefits.

Insights from the speakers triggered a lot of questions from the audience. The panelists have been able to answer them as from 23mn of the video.

A few questions couldn’t be answered due to time constraints. We selected one pivotal question related to the qualification of the wider lower-tier supply chain and we shared Melissa Orme’s response below.

What steps are you taking to qualify the wider lower-tier supply chain to make sure they are educated, trained, and geared up to be able to manufacture more parts in the future?:

We work closely with our sub-tier suppliers, and so we are selective in who we work with.  It is of primary importance that the supplier has a stable process, a good quality management system, and is AS9100 certified.  Then, we don’t just ask them to print many builds, with many powder lots, and check their material data results – because this is a significant investment for them and if their parameters are not going to hit our requirements, we don’t want them to make that investment only to fail.  We work with them all along… making sure that their process is stable, that their machines are giving them the data that will conform, and when we think their process is ready, we’ll ask them to create the multiple builds.   Before this ask, if we find that their material properties are not conforming we will work with them to help them improve – that may be adjusting gas flow, altering the parameter, etc… We are moving to a process in which we send encrypted build files to the printer with the parameter that we know conforms, so the only thing that may stand in the way from their data conforming would be something to do with their machine or handling process.  Here we will also work closely with the supplier.”

Listen to the entire conversation below: