Here at 3D Rapid Print, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.
On October 30th 2019, America’s National Aeronautics And Space Administration (NASA) announced that it would be awarding $1.5 million to fund what they described as “curriculum-based learning, research, training, internships, and apprenticeships at three institutions to meet the growing demand for expertise and techniques in high-volume aerospace manufacturing.” This would be done via NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) of their Office of STEM Engagement, as well as their Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. (STEM is short for science technology, engineering and Mathematics.)
This would formed the so-called “The MUREP Aerospace High-Volume Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management Cooperative.” (The masses will have to make what they will of these objectively weirdly long names.) NASA proclaimed that over the next 2 years, the selected institutions would develop opportunities for their students to learn about the designing and building of aerospace parts, as well as managing their supply chain.
One of the selected institutions is Tuskegee University (TU) of Alabama, who propose collaborating with Bell Flight of Fort Worth, Texas, in order to accelerate the integration of 3D printing into the replacement of helicopter parts. In addition, they intend to integrate 3D printing into the designing, building and testing of drones, which will be done in increments to enable better assessment of the 3D printed parts. (Bell Flight are self-appointed “more than aviation experts,” but “pioneers who have challenged what’s possible for sound barriers, lunar missions, tiltrotor systems and commercial helicopters.”)
TU project leader Dr. Firas Akasheh argues that in recent years, America’s aerospace industry has struggled to meet increasing demand for aircraft and parts, resulting in all-time-high levels of order backlogs and lost opportunities for growth. In addition to everything else, Tuskegee University intends to use part of the grant to help their College of Engineering expand its 3D printing facilities.
The other 2 selected institutions are the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and Virginia State University (VSU) of Petersburg, although neither of their projects involve 3D printing. UTEP aim to collaborate with aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Maryland, wanting to fix what they see as a shortage of employees in America’s aerospace and defence sectors who are skilled in the production of printed circuit boards. Doing something completely different, VSU intends to launch a pilot programme with Virginia’s Old Dominion University of Norfolk to advance the manufacturing of blisks. (Norfolk, Virginia is not to be confused with the county in England. The word blisk is short for bladed disk and refers to a combination of a rotor hub and blades made simultaneously from a single material, rather than two separate pieces.)
3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.
Disclaimer: Featured image of “Bell X-1 46-062 (in flight)” is in the public domain in the United States because it was solely created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted.”