Additive manufacturing (AM) is gaining considerable attention in the Aerospace and Defense sector due to its potential to reduce manufacturing lead time, component weight, production costs, part count, and negative environmental impacts. However, before AM can be fully implemented in Aerospace systems, manufacturing processes and testing methodologies that insure repeatable microstructure and in turn, repeatable mechanical properties, must be established. A perceived lack of repeatability in AM currently creates confusion around its value and its strategic insertion into Aerospace and Defense production. A best practice process flow developed with the aim of producing AM flight-worthy components in a repeatable and reliable manner is demonstrated with the recently completed case study of a lunar lander engine mount. The best practice process flow includes quality enablers that pertain to powder quality, production reliability, process and build parameter selection and their subsequent lock-down. The benefits of in-process monitoring are also discussed. Implementation of the best practice process flow aims to insure repeatable and reliable AM flight-worthy components, thereby providing significant value to the Aerospace and Defense sectors. The AM methodology discussed and implemented in this work is powder bed fusion, however many of the discussed quality enablers are relevant to other AM methodologies.
- Identify the steps necessary to construct a best practice process flow for AM
- Identify quality enablers to insure repeatability and reliability an AM production
- Maintain a quality enabled best practice process flow for reliable and repeatable AM production