Manufacturing & Prototyping

The Challenge of Replacing Hard Chrome

The search for a suitable replacement for hard chrome on aerospace components has been a key supply chain priority for aircraft manufacturers. This is because of the documented health risks to workers and the impact on the environment from exposure to hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen that occurs during the chrome plating process and is the most toxic form of chromium.

Posted in: Articles, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Coatings & Adhesives, Metals, Fastening, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components
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Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Vehicles

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) based machine learning technologies in autonomous vehicles is on the rise. Helping to drive this trend is the availability of a new class of embedded AI processors. A good example is NVIDIA’s Jetson family, which includes small form factor system on modules (SoMs) that provide GPU-accelerated parallel processing. These high-performance, low-power devices are designed to support the deep learning and computer vision capabilities needed to build software-defined autonomous machines. They derive massive computing capabilities from the use of a parallel processing GPU device with many cores, enabling next-gen computing devices to take on many of the tasks that were historically handled by humans or multiple, traditional computers.

Posted in: Articles, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, AR/AI, Artificial Intelligence, Defense, Board-Level Electronics, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Industrial Controls & Automation
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Air Caster Technology

If there is a prime example of the need for friction-free, precise and delicate equipment movement in the aerospace and defense industries, satellite positioning during the testing cycle should be at the top of the list. Whether in a clean room or another environment, there is no margin for error when it's time to move the “bird” even a short distance. Anything short of a smooth relocation means unacceptable property loss and project delays if this most intricate piece of aerospace equipment is damaged. Disassembly is hardly an option.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Positioning Equipment, Instrumentation, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement, Testing Procedures
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Shape-Shifting Origami Could Help Antenna Systems Adapt On-the-Fly

Conventional reconfigurable electrical and radio frequency (RF) structures commonly used in applications involving real-time reconfigurability in response to fast varying operational scenarios require specialized substrates or complex electrical circuits. Origami-based RF reconfigurable components and modules offer a solution with unique properties. First, they enable re-configurability over continuous-state ranges (as opposed to discrete states). Second, they do not require specialized mechanical support for multilayer frequency-selective surface structures. Moreover, deployable origami-based RF structures can achieve large surface re-configurability ratios from folded to unfolded states. Finally, these structures allow for independent control of multiple figures of merit: bandwidth, frequency of operation, and angle of incidence.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Communications, Defense, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Energy, Energy Harvesting, 3 D Printing & Additive Manufacturing, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Antennas, RF & Microwave Electronics, Semiconductors & ICs, Sensors
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Operational Considerations for High-Reliability Interconnects in Military and Aerospace Applications

In the recent past, military acquisition has shifted from being locked into large long-term contracts to developing complex systems in discrete increments that can be further optimized in future design cycles. These shorter design cycles allow for equipment to be deployed more rapidly, thereby mitigating the risk of subsystems going obsolete as increasing proportions of budget dollars go towards operation and support (O&S). This transition to evolutionary acquisition (EA) leaves a major opportunity for vendors to develop commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components that are military-compliant.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Fastening, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, RF & Microwave Electronics, Semiconductors & ICs, Test & Measurement
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NASA Eyes GPS at the Moon for Artemis Missions

The Global Positioning System (GPS), a satellite-based navigation system used by an estimated four billion people worldwide to figure out where they are on Earth at any moment, could be used to pilot in and around lunar orbit during future Artemis missions to the Moon.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Communications, Imaging, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Positioning Equipment, Antennas
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Critical Communications Break Out of the Analog Mold

Once firmly rooted in its analog origins, critical communications is now steadily evolving to provide enhanced situational awareness. The latest public safety and military communications (MilCom) radios are more versatile and reliable, supporting ad-hoc networks to improve or enable connectivity. With higher-data-rate capabilities, critical communications solutions can send and receive high-resolution images, videos, and other types of data-intensive content. At the same time, they provide higher-quality voice communications while maintaining security. To ensure communications and interoperability, they still can support analog communications as a failsafe. These myriad capabilities are possible through the ongoing adoption of new technologies, ranging from digital public safety standards and modulation formats, to technologies like wireless local area networking (WLAN) and Long Term Evolution (LTE).

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Communications, Wireless, Data Acquisition, Defense, Imaging, Video, Manufacturing & Prototyping, RF & Microwave Electronics
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Coating Technology Enables Effective Missile Countermeasures

Heat-seeking missiles have been in use against both rotorcraft and fixed wing aircraft since the mid-1950s, and countermeasures to deceive their guidance systems have been employed for nearly as long. Typically, countermeasures operate by generating a strong infrared signature which confuses the missile tracking system. At the heart of these systems is some form of powerful infrared emitting source. Often this source requires optical coating(s) to perform wavelength filtering needed for optimum operation. However, both the mechanical configuration of the thin film filter coatings used and the operating extremes to which they are subjected present challenges for the manufacturer.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Machinery, Mechanical Components
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Eyes in the Sky: HD Ethernet Cameras Take Flight Test Imagery to New Heights

There is increasing demand for high-quality High Definition (HD) video for airborne applications such as Flight Test Instrumentation (FTI). Ideally, such new camera solutions can reduce the weight and difficultly of installing wiring, and enable data to be coherently combined with image data. Ethernet cameras can address these needs with built-in compression and multiple output streams. Additionally, as Ethernet-based networks have become an attractive choice for FTI applications, we see increased requirements for integrating Ethernet-based cameras with FTI data acquisition equipment, network recorders, and telemetry systems as this removes duplication of wiring and devices.

Posted in: Articles, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Defense, Cameras, Imaging, Video, Manufacturing & Prototyping
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Machining Titanium Aero-Frames

The rise of titanium for aerospace applications has been well documented in recent years. Equally, the challenges associated with the efficient, productive and high-quality machining of this popular material, have also been a topic of debate and scrutiny. Of course, every machine shop wants optimized performance from its cutters when milling titanium, but this can prove less than straightforward without the right technology and know-how in place. Today, however, thanks to a breakthrough in this area, things are beginning to change.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace Manufacturing and Machining, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Custom & Contract Manufacturing, Industrial Controls & Automation, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials, Metals, Joining & Assembly, Machinery, Mechanical Components
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