Digital Manufacturing Solution

CAD / CAM Services
Celina, TX
One of the Navy's manufacturing goals is to be able to push a button and have a part start printing directly on the ship's 3D printer or the closest printer available.

Advanced manufacturing has yet to even crack the surface of what is possible. From generative design and lightweighting to software simulation and decentralized production, the transition to digital manufacturing promises to unlock an enormous amount of potential. However, large aerospace and defense organizations are struggling to fully capitalize on these benefits due in large part to the complexities of integrating these technologies into an enterprise-wide solution.

An ideal platform would enable design cycle times to be slashed from weeks to hours, project costs would greatly decrease, while at the same time the quality of each part would be perfected. Additionally, supply-chain complexities would be virtually eliminated because components could be designed in one part of the world and printed anywhere else on the planet, even in space or on Mars, with a push of a button.

The U.S. Navy is looking to tackle this problem by aligning the skill sets of a trio of outside expert organizations to develop an end-to-end additive manufacturing (AM) system that could be utilized across the entire Department of Defense (DoD).

CAD / CAM Services — a Texas-based prime contractor for the U.S. federal government — was brought in to integrate the commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies into a single interface. This would enable the DoD, as well as other large manufacturers, to manage and scale their AM processes.

“As a starting point, the Navy wanted to solve the increasingly problematic issues of supply chains and logistics. For example, an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Indian Ocean that needs a specific part immediately,” explains Scott Shuppert, CEO of CAD / CAM Services. “They want to be able to just push a button and have that part start printing directly on the ship's 3D printer or the closest printer available.”

To enable this to take place, Shuppert and his team had to provide a workable solution for each step along the lifespan of a part, from development and certification to service and replacement. This required matching each solution with the best possible technology provider along the way.

Transitioning to this advanced manufacturing process requires that each component undertake a thorough assessment of its design. Is it best suited for additive or subtractive manufacturing? Could it be improved through generative design or material science? Does it need digital simulation and/or finite element analysis (FEA) — which can mathematically predict how a component will hold up under real-world forces like vibration, heat, fluid flow, and other physical effects?

With ParaMatters’ platform the Navy can simply input the characteristics it needs for a specific component and the software will optimize it through testing, simulations, and inspection. The software selects the appropriate material, determines the best orientation for printing, where to include support structures, nests the parts on the build tray, and generates all slicing data for each component. It is also technology and material agnostic, which was a critical feature for the Navy.

Through generative design, this approach will improve weight versus performance, structural integrity, and a variety of material properties. It can also reduce the number of parts required in an assembly by combining them into a single printed piece.

These elements are then incorporated into a machine-learning system that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure future design work becomes even smarter. It creates repeatability, accuracy, standards, and the ability to streamline the operation through remembered systematic processes that can be applied repeatedly allowing automation to begin taking place in developing the output.

For more information, contact CAD / CAM Services at (800) 938-7226 or .